The Bearcats Blog is a Cincinnati Bearcats community that lives on the Bloguin group of sites. Scott King, who writes for BB, asked us to do a question and answer swap to preview today’s game.
Scott’s questions and my answers can be found here at the Bearcats Blog, and you can find my questions and his answers just below. You can also follow Scott on Twitter at @BearcatsBlog.
1. Believe it or not, Kentucky and Cincinnati have met 37 times over the years, far more than it has played Duke, who is considered a rival by many. How do you feel about playing Kentucky? Do you have a favorite memory of the Bearcats and Kentucky?
I’m excited. Cincinnati was projected for the 8/9 line the last couple of weeks before the selection committee locked it down. With plenty of time to think about what one seed I would rather Cincinnati play, I settled on Kentucky. My thoughts were this, Cincinnati doesn’t have a great shot at beating any of the number one seeds. In this scenario the Bearcats have a chance to take on the top and most dominant team in the country. The worst case scenario for this game is Cincinnati getting crushed. After the dramatics of the Purdue victory, a loss to Kentucky wouldn’t really feel so bad. Especially since it’s expected. And besides, it’s not like Kentucky hasn’t crushed everyone. UC would be another team in their run.
The best case scenario is history. Cincinnati could be the team that knocks off the undefeated juggernaut in a game that no one thinks they have a chance to win. If the Bearcats are going to go out in the round of 32, might as well be to the best.
My favorite memory of Cincinnati-Kentucky games would be the 2005 game, just seeing them play. I grew up and got into hoops after they stopped playing. The only shot the Bearcats had at playing Kentucky was in the tournament. While the Bearcats didn’t win, that game ended up being pretty significant. It was the last game Bob Huggins ever coached at UC. It ended an era of Cincinnati basketball.
2. Cincinnati is in a very interesting position, a #8 seed playing an undefeated #1 seed, just like Kentucky was last season against the Wichita State Shockers. While 8-1 upsets are not all that common, they do seem to happen every year. What about this matchup inspires you to believe that the Bearcats can ruin Kentucky’s run?
The Bearcats can be highly efficient for halves of basketball. UC plays tough defense and they work the offensive glass. Kentucky hasn’t been the best on the defensive glass this season. If UC can dominate on the glass and keep UK to taking bad shots, there’s a chance it could happen. Cincinnati has nothing to lose, Kentucky has a lot. Maybe if it’s tight, UK gets tight and the Bearcats can pull out some magic.
3. What part of Cincinnati’s game, when compared with that of the Wildcats, would seem to favor the Bearcats? Which player matchup do you think Kentucky should be concerned about?
To circle back to it, it would have to be the Bearcats strength on the offensive glass. Yeah, that’s not a gigantic weakness for Kentucky, but it’s the one thing they are weaker at when looking at their numbers. It wouldn’t be so bad if the Bearcats could make Kentucky jack up a ton of three point shots either.
That’s a tough one because pretty much every matchup is in Kentucky’s favor. If Gary Clark is playing well, he makes the Bearcats better. He defends tough, rebounds very well and can finish around the basket.
4. Who is the guy who started playing well late in the year for the Bearcats? What’s he done to get you here?
Farad Cobb. Cobb had some big games down the stretch. He put up 22 against Tulsa, 16 against Memphis and had 14 last night. In his only recent off night, Cincinnati lost to Connecticut. Cobb is the only Bearcat that can put the team on his back and carry them scoring wise. When he gets going, he can take over games. In the biggest wins of the season against SMU, Cobb put up 18 and 14. He’s going to have to be great if the Bearcats are going to win.
5. If you could pick a Kentucky player to suit up for the Bearcats, and I mean a guy who would fit right in to Cincinnati’s team concept, who would it be? Why?
Willie Cauley-Stein. Everything that WCS does is what the Bearcat coaches constantly preach. He’s a team player, he’s tough, he busts his ass and never quits. That’s someone you want on your side. Cauley-Stein is out of the Kenyon Martin mold. I can not give higher praise.
6. Complete this sentence: “When I think about Kentucky basketball, I think about ___”
The spectacle. Kentucky is the program in college basketball. Saying that 40-0 is the goal and then going out there and putting 35 in a row down is damn impressive. This season especially it was Kentucky and everyone else. I watch a ton of hoops with my work on The Student Section (cheap plug) and just because I love college basketball. Every Kentucky game was appointment viewing or something that I recorded on the DVR. Can’t say that about anyone else.
7. If Cincinnati wins this game, why do you think it will happen? If it does happen, how far do you think the Bearcats could go?
Cincinnati wins the game if the Bearcats play their best game and Kentucky plays poorly. The Bearcats could catch Kentucky coming out flat, take advantage with an early lead that they ride to halftime. Cincinnati hangs on during the inevitable Kentucky run and is still in the game late. Unlike LSU or Ole Miss, the Bearcats hit their shot at the end. The Bearcats aren’t going to roll over. If they are going to beat Kentucky, it’s going to be because they outwork Kentucky and take advantage of mistakes.
The Bearcats run would probably end in the Sweet 16, but it’s not crazy to think they could beat West Virginia or Maryland. Especially Maryland. I don’t think anyone believes in Maryland. UC would be hoping the bottom of the bracket fell apart, so Sweet 16 or Elite 8 would be my guess.
We’d like to thank Scott for offering his perspective on the Bearcats and participating with us in the Q&A. I think it’s important to get an idea about a team you haven’t seen much from some of their biggest fans, because it really helps us see them through their eyes.
Enjoy the game today.