As many UC fans bask in the glow of a Crosstown win and heckle their nearest blue cubicle, let's take a deeper look so there are more nuggets to rip off when the game conversation begins at work.
If you want some of the national links, here you go:
--- Mike DeCourcy takes a deeper look at what's making Cincinnati tick right now in lessons learned. And the HOFer wasn't resting on his laurels with a second piece with more game analysis.
--- In case you missed it, I wrote last night about Mick Cronin stumping for the game to be permanently moved downtown. Also, please hit the link if only to vote in the poll. We want to hear from you. Do you want the game downtown, at campus sites, in a three-year rotation or do you not care? Vote! And feel free to read my stuff while you're there.
--- Andy Katz spoke with the powers that be at Xavier, who disagree with Mick and want the game moved back to campus and into their season-ticket package. Sounds like this could get very interesting after next year.
--- Zac Jackson of FoxSports (remember that name, podcast fans!) writes about Mick trying to avoid a post-Xavier swoon which has often been the case with this game. By my estimation that was the reason he called this the "most overrated game in history" on ESPN not because it doesn't matter to the school. Rather, players get jacked up with the win and let down after because they think they won something when in actuality it means little in the grand scheme of conference play.
--- The always strong Todd Jones of the Columbus Dispatch on the hatred being sapped out of this year's tilt.
--- Doc takes the simplistic rout with his Crosstown column, many times the best way to go, as he points out UC won with better players. Indeed, sometimes it's just that easy.
--- Great to see the Xavier scribes before the game and Shannon Russell writes about what the heck was up with all the cramping? and Rick Broering of MusketeerReport (remember that name, too, podcast fans!) gives thoughts and analysis from the X side.
--- We have to talk about this defense and what they are doing right now. The offensive efficiency needs to improve for UC to win the Big East as they hope. They can't have a first half where they shoot 9 of 36 as they did last night and win at Syracuse or Louisville. Yet, with his defense, they always will be in the game.
As I have a tendency to do around these parts, I took a deeper look at the numbers and not just what they are doing to teams defensively but what they are doing in relation to their season averages. Every team is being held far below their average numbers when playing the Bearcats. Take a look at this chart
Opponent: Score, Opp FG% --- Average points/average opp FG%
UTM: 80-57, 28.4% --- 69/39.6%
MVSU: 102-60, 34.4% --- 54/30.7%
NCAT: 93-39, 15.2% --- 64/38.1%
Campbell: 91-72, 47.5% --- 72/45.5%
Iowa State: 78-70, 37.3% --- 83/45.5%
Oregon: 77-66, 34.5% --- 78/47.9%
Alabama: 58-56, 43.9% --- 68/44.7%
UALR: 87-53, 40.0% --- 68/43.1%
UMES: 92-60, 29.9% --- 57/34.0%
Marshall: 72-56, 39.5% --- 74/43.5%
Xavier: 60-45, 37.7% --- 71/49.9%
---- Of the five major opponents the Bearcats played this season (Iowa State, Oregon, Alabama, Marshall, Xavier), UC held them all to double-digit fewer points than they average on the season.
--- The difference between season average in points for UC's five major opponents and what the Bearcats held them to came out to 16.2 less per game. The smallest difference was minus-12.
--- Many times teams scoring fewer points than average stems from tempo. That's not the case here as UC fights to push the tempo at every turn this season. To keep teams at that kind of futility while also pushing up and down the floor is remarkable and exactly how you end up fifth in the country in defensive efficiency.
--- They also held each of the five major opponents to a lower field goal percentage than they average on the season.
--- The Bearcats defense forced double-digit turnovers in every game this season.
--- UC hit the target of 40 deflections last night with 41, according to Sean Kilpatrick.
--- Here were some thoughts from Xavier on what UC's defense can do and did to the Musketeers:
Brad Reford: "They were just aggressive. They are comfortable in their system. Once they get one turnover it seemed like they kept coming harder and harder. We just didn't do a good enough job taking care of the ball. It's as simple as that. But, yeah, they are tough defensively. They are a really good team. There's a reason they haven't lost a game yet this year."
Chris Mack: "They have closing speed like NFL defensive backs. In the second half we came unglued. They really rattled us in the second half with their defensive pressure."
--- While Xavier actually played more bench minutes (many forced due to Dee Davis and Semaj Christon cramps), UC's depth clearly took its toll in the second half. In fairness, Xavier won't win many games with Justin Martin and Brad Redford handling the ball. Nor do they expect to.
"Something certainly happened at halftime," Mack said, "because their depth really showed itself in the second half."
--- Kilpatrick not shy firing up the basketball last night. He took 27 (!) shots on his way to 25 points. His previous career high for field goal attempts in a game was 21. Having trouble tracking down the last UC player to take that many shots in a game, but you could probably just start at Deonta Vaughn.
--- The Bearcats just shot 5 of 24 from 3-point range and won handily by 15 points. Go ahead and marinate on that for a minute.
--- It may be time to tell Titus Rubles to stop shooting 3-pointers for a while. After going 0 for 4 last night he's now 1 for 19 on the season.
--- Quote of the night: From Cashmere Wright about his thoughts at halftime --- "I just know this was my last UC-Xavier game and coming in at halftime my whole mind state with Cronin was, I can't leave here with a loss. Not like that. Not not playing hard and giving them the game."
--- Shout out to UC hoops SID for staving off the masses and giving me one of the limited courtside press seats. Much appreciated. Honestly, US Bank needs to set up a second riser on the floor just behind the fans on the floor for the extra media. That is an easy fix, it would seem, and an oversight by the facility with a lot of national media on hand.
Here was the facility from my angle around pregame intros. Really, a great atmosphere. Hard not to love this job, folks. Thankful every day for the opportunity.