With so many individual stories, trends and analysis necessary with spring football and the postseason tournaments going on, I've backed away from the Breakfast format recently to delve deeper into the individual topics happening around UC.
Well, not today. I'm coming at you in full Breakfast format. There's officially too many topics to hit on to do anything but chow down Farmer's Breakfast style.
Let's eat ...
--- Have to start with the Big East tournament. Another untimely scoring drought bogged down the Bearcats as they were eliminated by top seed Georgetown. No surprise as finding offense remains and will continue to be the stamp on this year's UC team. When they've been able to create extra opportunities through points off turnovers or offensive rebounding, they score enough to let their defense win the game. Sometimes they don't. That's when a second half like Georgetown happens.
Disappointing exit, particularly for Sean Kilpatrick who adores MSG and the Big East Tournament and will have his final game there be one to forget (4 points, 2 of 12 from field, 0 of 8 from 3-point range). As we've known for months -- and will be the case with 95 percent of the NCAA Tournament field -- this team's Big Dance will be all about draw and the right matchups. Such a wide open field and the proper matchups paired with a few made shots and UC could find themselves back in the Sweet 16 again.
For those of you who started swinging the negativity stick at that sentence, I'd only point out that there is negligible difference between the 2 seeds and 12 seeds this year. It's been as wide open a regular season as we've seen.
So, when UC sees its name on Selection Sunday for the third time in the last three years the characteristics of the opponent to look at will be their offensive turnover percentage and defensive rebounding percentage. No matter the strengths or stars on the opposing team, the Bearcats can overcome those. Drawing an opponent who occasionally struggles to hold on to the ball and can be susceptible to giving up offensive rebounds matches perfectly with UC's makeup.
Remember, points off turnovers has been the defining statistic between wins and losses in conference play and UC ranks 12th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage.
Now, complete weakness in both categories is difficult to find in a tournament of the best 68 teams in the country (theoretically), but with such a soft bubble, they will be out there.
With UC likely slated somewhere in the 9-11 range, let's take a look at some of the possible opponents. I'm drawing from all the current 6-8 seeds in Joey Brackets latest update for a sampling. There are great matchups out there.
Team: Turnover Percentage Rank -- Defensive Rebounding Percentage Rank
Butler: 186 -- 16
VCU: 32 -- 297
UNLV: 208 -- 29
UCLA: 5 -- 263
North Carolina: 46 -- 125
Notre Dame: 28 -- 81
Creighton: 112 -- 22
Memphis: 250 -- 123
Colorado St.: 15 -- 1
Missouri: 126 -- 51
NC State: 62 -- 244
Illinois: 40 -- 250
Who to root for: 1) Memphis (as undisciplined a team as in the entire tournament), 2) UNLV, 3) Butler
Who not to root for: 1) Colorado State (apparently all they do well is board and hold onto the ball), 2) Creighton, 3) UNC
I'd rank turnover percentage as more important than defensive rebounding, which is the reason why some of the rooting ranks are what they are. UC ranks 12th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage.
--- The most encouraging development from two days in NYC was the verification Cashmere Wright appears to be back to his old ways. He drove and finished in the lane and knocked down shots from deep. We started to see the turn against Louisville, which I wrote about that night, and it truly looks to be a turning point for him.
With Cash playing like he did against Georgetown, UC will have a chance. He does need to stay more involved with his shot, unlike the final 15 minutes where his attempts were limited.
As I tweeted yesterday, an ode to The Who: New Cash, same as the old Cash.
- Cashmere Wright: 3P% /// FG% /// PPG
- Pre-injury: 44.2% (46-104) /// 47.2% (92-195) /// 15.1
- Next 10 games: 19.7% (14-71)/// 22.9% (25-109) /// 8.2
- Last 4 games: 50% (10-20) /// 47.2% (17-36) /// 12.5
--- For those who scoff at making the NCAA Tournament three years in a row, understand how difficult it is to win year-in and year-out in college basketball -- particularly at this major level. Finding the right chemistry, momentum and pieces, all while staying free of key injury can be as difficult as it gets with a cast of 20-year-olds.
Look no further than Kentucky this year. This time last year the thought was rules needed to be changed to break up his superpower system. Now, they're bubble babies. Three years ago, all-powerful North Carolina missed the Big Dance and joined UC in the NIT. Jamie Dixon and Pitt played in the CBI last season.
Even the best, most powerful programs with Hall of Fame coaches have years when the cards don't fall as they would like.
Here are some other programs that missed out on The Dance at least one of the last two years or are going to miss this year: Arizona, Tennessee, Miami (Fla.), Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Baylor, Cal, Clemson, Maryland, Indiana, UCLA, Pittsburgh, Texas, West Virginia.
These are tradition and talent rich programs with quality coaches. Understandable the expectations for seeding and a run in the BET were higher this season for UC, but understanding the highs and lows of college basketball is important perspective.
If your worst year is 22 wins and a middle seed in the Big Dance, you've made it. Just ask Roy Williams or John Calipari or Jamie Dixon or Bob Huggins.
--- Speaking of Huggs, his WVU team will finish the season 13-19 and 6-12 in Big 12 play. But everyone can keep clamoring for the "old days."
--- Mick Cronin, never afraid to voice his opinion on conference realignment used the pulpit again yesterday at the Big East Tournament, as Bill Koch wrote. Mick's not wrong.
As I said in this week's podcast with Mo Egger, the breakup of the Big East tournament in its current form is travesty numero uno in the entire realignment fiasco.
--- The semifinals of the BET, not a bad night of basketball. Georgetown-Syracuse and Louisville-Notre Dame. Toss in Raf, Bilas, McDonough. You can take the batteries out of the remote.
Oh, and Bill Clinton showed up in the Louisville locker room last night and snapped this photo. Just another night at MSG.
--- I know ripping on uniforms has become more popular than pope jokes on Twitter the last few days, but at some point it makes little sense. Are they different? Yes. Do they look bad? Sure.
But what does this essentially devolve into? Old people ripping on what young people like to wear. Been happening for generations upon generations. Somewhere a cavemen slapped his caveson for chopping the sleeves off his tigerskin.
This is a bunch of older media types judging a younger generation's fashion choices. Sigh. It's not about us, despite as self-entitled as we often act.
--- I know it's popular to take shots at Chris Mack and Xavier around these parts, but I'll be the first and stand and cheer for the coaching job he did this season. All things considered, he found a way to win and stay relevant with a team guys who for the most part weren't ready for major college basketball.
--- Football news: I think UC might need to build an embassy outside Lincoln Financial Field as yet another former UC star has landed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
This time it's local favorite Connor Barwin, who inked a six-year deal yesterday. Congrats to him. He joins Trent Cole, Brent Celek and Jason Kelce to make four of 22 starters from UC.
Should expect anything other than Travis Kelce joining his brother there after this draft?
--- Also, spoke with Travis at UC's Pro Day on Wednesday, he informed me he actually suffered a sport hernia last season in Week 3 but played through it all year. Imagine how he could have played healthy. He expects to be fully healed from it for his April 4 workout for scouts at UC.
From all that I've seen or heard he should go somewhere on Day 2, either second or third round.
He also told me he plans on starting a beard-growing contest with his brother, Jason, whose beard is the stuff of NFL legend. Worth monitoring, to be sure.
--- Most significant number from UC's pro day came from RB George Winn. He ran a 4.53 40-yard dash. That was a dramatic improvement from the 4.75 he ran at the Combine which hurt his stock. Still believe somebody takes a shot on him late.
--- Kevin Goheen at FSOhio wrote about the continuance of Walter Stewart's journey. Obviously, all the best for Walt, specifically on the health front.
--- The America 12 will NOT be the name of UC's new conference. There are plenty of new suggestions flowing in. I could care less, as long as it doesn't have a number in it. We should know better than that at this point.
Some randomness ...
--- Thank you, Doc, for saying what I've been saying the entire time this decision became a topic of public discussion. The move of Aroldis Chapman to the rotation is not about the regular season, it's absolutely about the postseason.
--- Many summer tours are being announced. The Killers will be the first to grace The Shoe, the new pavillion stage at the casino. Not a massive fan, but would be in for the atmosphere.
Also, Phish announced their tour, though the closest they come to Cincy is Chicago and Atlanta.
--- If Tony Danza is in it, it must be good. AAAAANNNGGEEELLLLAAA (Not surprisingly, the gift that keeps on giving, YouTube has Tony and Angela's Top 10 moments.)
--- Samsung released their new Galaxy. I've joined #TeamiPhone and am pretty partial, but I could see this making a run at the Apple folks.
--- For those of you wondering about The Killers, here's probably their most popular song. Have a great weekend everybody and make sure to keep it locked to the Twitter feed (@pauldehnerjr) for reaction to UC's seeding in The Dance. I'll have all you need to know about the draw Sunday night and Monday morning. For any reaction you can shoot an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.