It’s a big day for fans here in the Queen City, for those repping the navy and white and the red and black. After the five months of build-up March Madness has finally arrived and after success for other semi-local teams — Ohio State, Kentucky and Louisville — the Bearcats and the Muskies look to continue the trend.
Sixth-seeded Cincinnati will face the eleventh-seeded Texas Longhorns in the second round of the East region. The game is slated to tip at 12:15 p.m. today on CBS. The Bearcats will need to contain the Longhorn’s one-man show in J’Covan Brown. The junior guard averaged a Big 12 best 20.1 points per game on a team that averaged 73 a game. Production drops off seriously after Brown — Texas only has one other player averaging double figure points. If the Bearcats decide to play man-to-man, a combo of Dion Dixon and JaQuan Parker will look to slow down Brown. Cashmere Wright will have the duty of slowing down freshman point guard Myck Kabongo, a former McDonald’s All-American.
Offensively the ‘Cats will look to use their superior size — Texas has only one player taller than 6-foot-7 — down low with Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj and Justin Jackson. If UC can get the ball down low on a consistent basis then the duo of Wright and Dixon will be able to penetrate and create open outside shots for Parker and leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick. Unlike Texas, UC has a well-balanced offense with four players averaging double digits and a fifth player averaging 9 points per game.Texas is a young team with six freshmen on the roster and has lost more than one close game during a tough Big 12 schedule despite their lack of experience. The Bearcats also have fought their way through their fair share of adversity this year. If Mick Cronin’s guys play with the defensive tenacity that saw them knock off a nation-leading seven ranked teams during the season, than surely we will see them in round three.
Catch plenty of action and throw back a green beer (or 12) before the 10th-seeded Musketeers face off against seventh-seeded Notre Dame in a battle of Catholic supremacy ... on the hardwood (in terms of religion, they’re all winners). On paper this looks like a great game and hopefully it plays out that way on the court. As most college hoops fans know, the Muskies are led by the outstanding backcourt duo of Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons. They average 17 points and 15.5 points, respectively.
Notre Dame doesn’t have a go-to scorer after losing their stud, Tim Abromaitis, early in the year. But what the Fighting Irish don’t lack is a core group of players that work their tails off and come up with wins. A big match up in this game will be between big-men Jack Cooley and Kenny Frease. If either one can have a monster game expect that team to win.I think Xavier will have their hands full but I also think the Musketeers play some of their best ball during tournament time. I think Xavier pulls it out by five or so. Although the Reds look like their going to be damned good this year I’m not ready for the hoops season to end early. Best of luck to both teams!