The Mayhem continued in the Big East last night as nearly all 4 of the top seeds went down. If it was not for a fluke bank shot at the buzzer of the final game, all four top seeds would have been watching the semifinals and finals of the Big East Tournament from home. See yesterday’s blog post where I say teams that have really clinched a good position in the NCAA tournament fall asleep at the wheel a little in their conference tournaments.
I mean what are they really playing for other than pride? They have already locked up their bid in the tourney and are looking ahead to that. I will say that Syracuse still definitely deserves that 4th number 1 seed. If you look at their overall body of work this year, they are deserving without question. A 7 and 1 record against top 25 teams and an overall 28 and 4 record against a brutal schedule. Not to mention winning the regular season crown in the toughest conference in the country. Their resume speaks for itself. Now an interesting fact for all you basketball fans out there getting ready to fill out your NCAA brackets. No team has ever won a National Championship that has lost in the first round of their conference tournament. So keep that in mind when making picks in a few days.
I do not normally talk about the Bearcats on this blog. But I will have to make an exception today as last night’s game really hit home. The team played their hearts out for 3 consecutive nights and really deserved to win that game last night. On very tired legs, the Bearcats hung around with a tough Bob Huggins led Mountaineers squad. West Virginia won on a couple of fluke plays down the stretch by their ring leader Da’Sean Butler. UC shot the ball horribly over the course of the entire tournament, yet they still fought their way to nearly 3 victories in the toughest conference in the land. Not to mention they played without their best defensive player Rashad Bishop. It was a very impressive showing for UC and should get fans excited for next year’s team already. Plus former President Bill Clinton seemed to really be enjoying the game courtside.
I guess that destiny was not on the Bearcat’s side. The last few plays of the game seemed to be a microcosm of the Cats season. UC comes up with a great defensive stop. They get the ball back with a chance to win..then turn it over. The other team puts up a shot that may go in 1 out of 15 times and it falls. The Bearcats could easily be a 20 plus win team with a couple of breaks. But unfortunately, hard-fought games and unlucky breaks come with the territory of playing a brutal non-conference and conference schedule. At times the Cats looked phenomenal this year such as down in Maui. Then at other times they have made you scratch your head with losses to teams like St. Johns and Seton Hall. Also there have been times where they deserve to win a ball game and a team hits a lucky shot down the stretch, such as Reggie Redding’s three that hit off the rim and backboard to secure a win for Nova over UC a week ago.
Be aware that this team will be bigger and better next year though with most of their players returning. Lance Stephenson is developing into a superstar and will be a first team all Big East performer next year. Then you add in the inside punch of Yancy Gates, the slashing and perimeter defense of senior to be Rashad Bishop, and the improved guard play of Cashmere Wright and Jaquon Parker, this team will be ready to contend for a spot at the top of the Big East.
So maybe they underachieved this year. Maybe their coaching staff made some poor decisions at times. But their effort level was always there. You cannot say that they did not give it their all. And on a final note. What is Jay Bilas’s deal? The man consistently laid into the Cats in every way for 3 straight nights. He consistently made remarks about their style of play and just how lucky they were to be in games. Sorry that UC plays a contrasting style to Duke Jay. Sorry that this team did not pan out the way that you and many others thought they would after Maui. Not everyone plays simple fundamental basketball. Defense, rebouding, and effort are what takes some teams to paradise.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.