Important gameday for the Bearcats (18-6, 6-5) tonight (8 p.m., FSOhio/700WLW). They host Villanova (15-9, 6-5) for the second of three tough home games in six days. The Big East picture gradually begins to take shape and UC currently sits tied for 9th with Villanova. That sure sounds like bad news on paper, but consider this: the Bearcats are one game in the loss column out of fourth place. And of the teams tied or in front of them on the schedule, they play six games against them down the stretch.
Here's the run, not for the faint of heart:
No. 15 Georgetown (8-3)
@ No. 21 Notre Dame (7-4)
@ No. 12 Louisville (7-4)
So many of the season goals are still right in front of them. That said, the time to make the move is here and it won't be easy.
Let's eat ...
--- As for Villanova, an interesting matchup for UC here. Nova found some mojo in recent weeks. They ripped off the best week of the Big East season with wins against Louisville and Syracuse back-to-back.
They're coming off consecutive wins by at least 23 points, though it was over DePaul and USF.
By the numbers, Villanova is third in defensive efficiency and second in FG percentage defense in the Big East during conference play. They lead the conference in two-point percentage defense. With a giant, HOWEVER, though is the fact they rank 12th in 3-point percentage defense. The only hole in their defense seems to be allowing 3s. And, as we know, these Bearcats aren't shy firing up from deep.
For those who like to yell and scream at my Twitter account about shooting too many 3s, please unfollow me tonight.
--- In case you missed it, I wrote about the Cashmere Wright situation yesterday after we talked about it at length with Mick. You can read that here.
My analysis before talking to Mick was the same after hearing what the coach had to say: Cashmere Wright is too good and won too many games for this team to not dance with who brought you the rest of this season. You have to believe he will figure this out, he's figured things out through slumps before and this team is too good when he's great to try another strategy.
"He's all heart and he's giving everything he's got," Cronin said on 700WLW. "I feel terribly because he was having an All-Big East year."
--- By the way, always a great listen on the Mick Cronin Show with Dan Hoard and Chuck Machock. Monday's was no different. Between Chuck's story about Chess Pie and Mick's marital advice to UC Chris, it doesn't miss. Here's the podcast.
--- Another topic Mick discussed was the need for defense to create more offense. He's correct. It's been one of the most interesting developments of the season.
Despite how well the Bearcats have played defensively this year, they've struggled to create turnovers in conference play. The irony is that has been a staple of this defense the last few years.
Mick even pointed out with Dan and Chuck nobody dove on the floor during the last game.
Year: Steal% -- Turnover % defense
2011: 5th -- 3rd
2012: 5th -- 8th
2013: 14th -- 13th
What does that amount to? About three to four steals per game. At their current points per possession that equals about three points a game. Think that matters in a year when most every game has come down to the final play? Better believe it.
Tonight will be the perfect time to return to the roots of turning people over. Villanova ranks dead last in conference play in turnover percentage on offense. They're averaging almost 15 turnovers in each of the last three games. They are certainly vulnerable there.
--- Scott over at Bearcats Blog decided to break down the crunchtime shooting over the last seven games, which most have come down to the wire. Some very interesting, revealing analysis and worth a read.
--- Think this is a big game for the Wildcats? They are calling this a make-or-break road trip as they fight to make the NCAA Tournament.
--- You people shouldn't be caring about this link yet, but I'm going to put it out there for you anyway because I know you can't get enough of it. Here's the bracket matrix of where all the bracketology folks have UC sitting for the dance.
--- Georgetown might be the best team in the Big East right now. They took it to Marquette last night. Otto Porter is so versatile, he becomes almost impossible to guard at times. But we have the rest of the week to talk about Friday's game.
The always entertaining Buzz Williams gave some quality responses to questions about a technical he received that may have turned thee tied of the Golden Eagles loss.
--- Some randomness ...
--- I see a lot of people complaining about wrestling being dropped from the Olympics in 2020. Fair enough, it shouldn't be. It's as much an Olympic tradition as those stupid pins and it will help kill the sport as a whole.
Still, when's the last time anybody actually watched wrestling in the Olympics? Oh, and understood what was going on?
Sitting in front of your TV, on the edge of your seat, yelling out, "Nearfall!" Yeah, I didn't think so.
--- Just when you thought all zombie alerts come from Florida. Good work bored Montana hackers.
--- This is what happens on Tuesday nights in Key West. And was probably not even noticed by passersby. Part of the reason I had to move away from there six years ago.
--- Louie C.K. with a new HBO special. It will air in April. Can't wait.
--- What in the name of the Evansville Purple Aces is going on with this Golden State Warriors jersey?
--- The Harlem Shake is happening. And I don't know that we can stop it now. I'm honestly not sure what it is, only that I'm probably too old to do it. Although, I wouldn't mind being an extra in this T-Pain rendition.
As always, I want to hear from you. Shoot me an email with questions, comments or your Harlem Shake video to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter at @pauldehnerjr.