When I decided to go to the University of Oregon for graduate school in 2005 I was like, “Those hippies are going to be bummed when I remind them of the UC basketball team beating down the No. 5 Ducks in 2002.” (There were also feelings of, “Goddang UC givin’ me an English degree that ain’t worth nuthin’…”)
But before I could even get out there and wear my Jason Maxiell jersey on Oregon’s lovely campus (those dudes have about 1,284 bike racks, for reals), Bob Huggins had been let go and my confidence in UC’s 2007 National Championship plans (the pending recruiting class was going to be ridiculous) were shattered. Even worse, this scary guy named Ivan Johnson backed out of his commitment to UC, and guess what school he went to? Freakin Oregon.
This year’s free agent market has been extremely slow in developing, and there are still big-name guys waiting to find out where they fit in. The opportunity is ripe for a team like the Reds, with a little cash to spend, to find a rare deal. But the Reds are a weird team right now, and it’s been difficult to figure out what would be a good move, even if it comes for less than market value.
Anyone who misses the days of Eric “The Helicopter” Hicks jamming on people’s heads for the University of Cincinnati basketball team will have a chance to see Hicks suit up for another local team later this month, but this time he’ll be playing football.
Hicks signed a one-day contract to play in the Cincinnati Commandos game against the Marion Blue Racers on April 28. He’ll be in town practicing with the United Indoor Football League team during the next couple of weeks. He calls it his “OchoCinco moment.”
Although he never played in the NBA, Hicks has been a professional basketball player since leaving UC after his senior season in 2006. Hicks has been a very good player in several European leagues, having played on championship and All-Star teams in such countries as Belgium, Poland, Russia, Israel, China and Spain.
Several notable NFL players had college basketball experience, including tight ends Antonio Gates, Jimmie Graham and Rob Gronkowski. Hicks, who is 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, hasn’t played football since his sophomore year of high school in North Carolina. Although he doesn’t expect to end up in the NFL any time soon, Commandos coach Billy Back says his size and athleticism could be real advantages in this league.
“He’s an all-time fan favorite Bearcat and one of my favorites as well,” Back said. “He’s an athlete, and we can use his height to our advantage.”
Hicks plans to return to Europe soon to resume his basketball career, but said in a release that he’s excited about playing for the Commandos.
In addition to the April 28 game in which Hicks will play, the Commandos have home games at the Cincinnati Gardens May 12, May 26 and June 2. Tickets are $10-$22 and available through Ticket Master or the Cincinnati Gardens ticket office, 513-631-7793 or
2250 Seymour Ave. Find the team's website here.
Here’s a video showing a bunch of cool stuff Hicks did as a Bearcat.
Let’s start with Xavier, who is in a far more intriguing position heading into tonight’s game. Joe Lunardi, Jerry Palm and Shaw Siegel — all well-known braketologists — have XU in as either an 11 or 12 seed. Fair enough, although as the 3 seed in the A-10 Tournament I believe the Muskies should have to win at least one game to earn a bid to the big dance. I’m going out on a limb here — win and in, lose and lock up a home game in the NIT.
But if the Musketeers can hold on for a “W” the 11 to 12 seed range looks far more promising than you may believe. Xavier is talented on any given night to beat most of the 5 and 6 seeds. Here’s a mouthwatering thought: Lunardi has Xavier against Louisville in his latest projection. That would be one hell of a game.
The Bearcats will be more than familiar with Syracuse after tonight’s game and a regular season meeting, but I think the Bearcats match up better with the Jayhawks. If things go according to (my) plan and UC gets Kansas, Yancy Gates is going to have to go into beast mode against player-of-the-year candidate Thomas Robinson. I digress; a win against Syracuse tonight in the mecca of hoops, MSG, might push UC into the realm of a 7 seed. Oh how magical that would be.
If Gates can put up a performance similar to yesterdays and the defense can limit the opportunities of Dion Waiters and Kris Joseph the ‘Cats have a fighting chance. It would also be nice if those cool new uniforms — 28 percent lighter than the old ones, I hear — could supply and additional 10 points or so just for good measure.
As a UC fan I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a 7 seed. I really would like to see Xavier in and prove that their recent struggles aren’t a true reflection of their potential. Check back Monday for a Selection Sunday analysis.
The year 2000 seems like only yesterday — everyone all hunched up in our bomb shelters assuming the bank was going to turn our life savings into some kind of repeating decimal instead of the hundreds of dollars we had in there, all because a computer doesn't know how to count above 1999.
Once we made it to the Millennium, many Cincinnatians' concerns shifted from ultimate survival to how awesome it was going to be when Kenyon Martin and the UC Bearcats won the National Title. We're not here to recap how much it sucked to witness Kenyon's broken ankle in the stupid Conference USA tournament or to apologize to the girlfriend at the time who walked in the room during the injury and expected some semblance of reason to be demonstrated despite the fatal blow to the 'Cats' chances. (She says she forgave me, but her recent marriage to a hockey player in California speaks otherwise...)
Before the conference tournament there was the Bearcats' second-to-last regular season game, a contest against future pro Quintin Richardson and the DePaul Blue Demons on March 2, 2000. UC had four of its own players who would be drafted following the 1999-00 season: Martin (1st overall pick in 2000), DerMarr Johnson (6th pick in 2000), Kenny Satterfield (53rd in 2001) and Steve Logan (30th in 2002).
Witness, via the beauty of the
Internet, the final 3:46 of gametime, the No. 2 Bearcats trailing
60-50 and Dick Vitale in the house to go off about how awesome Kenyon was.
University of Cincinnati basketball players might not know that much about the history between their program and that of Ohio State University, but Cincinnati's mayor just added another level to the stakes for tonight’s game. Mayor Mark Mallory and Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman have made a friendly bet on the outcome, putting each city’s hometown ice cream on the line.
If Ohio State wins the game — which will take place 9:45 p.m. tonight in Boston — Mallory will send a shipment of Graeter’s to Columbus. Should UC beat OSU and advance to the Elite 8, Coleman will send some of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to Cincinnati.
Mallory has offered supreme confidence that the 6-seeded Bearcats will take down the 2-seed Buckeyes.
“The Cincinnati Bearcats are a great source of pride for the entire city. I’m confident that UC will prevail and march on to the Elite 8,” Mallory said in a news release. “I just hope Mayor Coleman sends enough Jeni’s Ice cream for the entire team.”
When offered the initial wager, Coleman reportedly slammed down his OSU travel coffee mug, then paused to reflect on the heartbreak Buckeye fans felt back in 1961 when UC upset the favored Buckeyes to win the NCAA championship and then defeated OSU in the title game again in 1962. (Just kidding, Coleman was also gracious and nice, releasing his own statement.)
“I want to thank Mayor Mallory for his generous offer of Graeter’s ice cream on behalf of the Bearcats,” Coleman said. “While I do not expect it to be as sweet as the Buckeyes’ victory Thursday night, I’m sure it will be delicious. In fact, I’ll be happy to share some with Mayor Mallory if he’d like to join me next week rooting on the Buckeyes in the Final Four.
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Xavier as one of his first four out, and I tend to agree — although I disagree with the pointless bickering in the comments section regarding the brawl that happened — wait for it — almost three months ago. The Bearcats are listed as a 10 seed, a much better prospect than having an 8 or 9 seed and having to play Kentucky or Syracuse if they can make it past the first round. With the current mock up, the ‘Cats would play San Diego State in the first round — a winnable game — and North Carolina in the second — maybe, with a hope and a prayer.
Not to say that crazier things haven’t happened: VMI, Butler (twice) and George Mason have all knocked off No. 1 seeds in the tournament. UC has more talent than any of those teams, and if they can continue playing like they did against Marquette this past Wednesday the Sweet 16 or even Elite 8 isn’t out of the question.
The Bearcats played stifling defense against Marquette, forcing 17 turnovers. They dominated the paint, outscoring the Golden Eagles 42-24, and JaQuon Parker was a revelation. Parker used his size and strength to drive to the hoop at will and went 2-for-4 from behind the arc, including a halftime buzzer-beater that put UC up 16 at the half. Parker finished the game with a career-best 28 points.
The Bearcats didn’t look back. Yancy Gates finished the game with 13 boards despite being limited to less than four minutes of first half play because of foul trouble. The 72-61 final wasn’t as close as the score indicated, as UC coasted to victory. With the emergence of Parker the 'Cats now have a steady combo of inside and outside threats that will make them a difficult team to face both in New York and in the NCAA tournament.
Xavier, on the other hand, isn’t a lock for a ticket to March Madness. Winning the A10 tourney would put all doubt to rest. The Muskies host Charlotte tomorrow; with a loss the NIT will certainly be beckoning. A win leaves a glimmer of hope, but in all likelihood, Chris Mack and his team will be on the outside looking in next Sunday.
The Bearcats’ sweet double-overtime victory yesterday over Georgetown was the team’s sixth win in its last seven games, three of which were against teams ranked in the Top 25 at the time. The ’Cats are now 6-3 against the RPI top 50, with tonight’s 7 p.m. Big East semifinal against No. 2 Syracuse offering an opportunity to seriously enhance the team’s seeding come Sunday.
ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently has the Bearcats projected as an 8 seed, playing Virginia in the first round with a potential second-round game against No. 1 seed Kansas. This situation would seriously suck. (For Cincinnati or for Kansas? ... Good point.)
Cincinnati is by far the most dangerous team in the 7-10 range, having recently defeated projected 3-seeds Marquette and Georgetown, along with projected 5-seed Louisville. It’s safe to say that no No. 1 or 2 seed wants to see the Bearcats in the second round. And for UC, the road to the Sweet Sixteen actually would look a lot easier from one of the 11 or 12 seeds — fellow Big East squad South Florida is projected as a 12 to face 5-seed UNLV in the first round and potentially 4-seed Florida State in the second. I think UC would gladly take on a tougher first-round matchup for a second round game that’s not against a school that starts four or five future NBA players.
It actually wouldn’t be a huge surprise if UC is one of the several teams that every year gets slotted somewhere far from what the prognosticators expected. The Bearcats’ RPI of 58 might fit in with those of some of the current bubble teams, but only two other teams outside the RPI top 17 have as many wins over the RPI top 50 as UC’s six (Kansas State, RPI 44, and Notre Dame, RPI 37, each also have six).
The Bearcats received votes in the AP Top 25 last week. UC’s five votes had the team around the No. 35 ranking, which falls in line with the 8- to 9-seed projection. But that was before yesterday’s win over Georgetown, which would likely have earned the ’Cats more votes even if the team loses to Syracuse. Louisville, on the other hand, fell from the Top 25 in last week’s ranking, actually sitting two spots out at No. 27, but the Cardinals are currently projected as a 5 seed, which would typically include teams in the 17-20 range.
The selection committee doesn’t strictly follow any single set of rankings when determining seeding, but the guess here is that even with a loss to Syracuse in the Big East semifinals it wouldn’t be a stretch for the committee to consider UC one of the top 28 teams in the country, which would put UC among the 7 seeds. And it’s safe to say that a win over Syracuse would put the Bearcats firmly in the Top 25 by week’s end, meaning a 6 seed would be possible. And if UC were to win the whole Big East tournament, it would be difficult for any selection committee to seed the team very far from the likes of projected 3-seeds Georgetown and Marquette, two teams the Bearcats have beaten in the last 16 days.
Here’s hoping the
Bearcats put on a good showing tonight in primetime against the No. 2
team in the country in the Big East semis. Selection committee
members will be watching, as will the potential No. 1 and No. 2 seeds
which certainly don’t want to see Cincinnati between themselves and
the second round.
Late Sunday night, as the Cincinnati-Florida State game prepared to determine the final member of this year’s Sweet Sixteen, the national analysis dudes all started talking about how the state of Ohio had gone 7-0 up to that point — Ohio University had just defeated South Florida to get into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since the 1960s. Ohio State and Xavier were both already in.
Cincinnati went on to win a physical, back-and-forth game against FSU, which finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference and won the ACC tournament. It was the first time in the history of UC’s program that the team beat a higher-seeded opponent in the NCAA Tournament. The No. 6 seed Bearcats will play No. 2 seed Ohio State at 9:45 p.m. Thursday in Boston, which means the state of Ohio will suffer its first loss of the 2012 NCAA Tournament then.
After a second-round comeback win over Notre Dame, Xavier found itself in the fortunate position of facing a team called “Lehigh” rather than one called “Duke.” Lehigh was one of two 15 seeds to defeat a No. 2 seed in this year’s second-round of play, and the “Mountain Hawks” made actually game of against Xavier, which didn’t have the game in hand until less than five minutes remained. Xavier will now play No. 3 seed Baylor at 7:15 p.m. Friday in Atlanta.
Ohio University upset 4-seeded Michigan in the second round and then ousted No. 13 seed South Florida in the third. The Bobcats will play No. 1 seed North Carolina at 7:47 p.m. Friday in St. Louis.
Ohio State beat Loyola (Md.) and Gonzaga to earn its spot in the Sweet Sixteen. OSU and Cincinnati last faced each other in the NCAA Tournament in the 1962 National Championship game, which UC won 71–59. (UC also defeated OSU in the 1961 title game, 70-65.) The Ohio State-Cincinnati winner will face the winner of Syracuse-Wisconsin, setting up a potential rematch of the Big East Tournament semifinal game when Cincinnati upset Syracuse.
MORE SWEET NEARBY TEAMS:
The Ohio Valley’s hoops success easily spreads beyond just the Ohio teams — three more schools within 100 miles are in the Sweet Sixteen: Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana. Kentucky and Indiana are actually matched up in the South Region (9:45 p.m. Friday in Atlanta), while Louisville faces Michigan State in the West (7:47 p.m. Thursday in Phoenix).
BIG EAST REPRESENT:
The Big East again this year sent more teams to the NCAA Tournament than any other conference, and four of its nine are still standing: Syracuse, Marquette, Cincinnati and Louisville. Each of these schools is in a separate region, so it’s still technically possible for an all-Big East Final Four.
SWEET SIXTEEN SCHEDULE:
Thursday, March 22
Wisconsin vs. Syracuse
(Boston): 7:15 p.m. on CBS
Louisville vs. Michigan
State (Phoenix): 7:47 p.m. on TBS
Cincinnati vs. Ohio
State (Boston): 9:45 p.m. on CBS
Florida vs. Marquette
(Phoenix): 10:17 p.m. on TBS
Friday, March 23
Baylor vs. Xavier
(Atlanta): 7:15 p.m. on CBS
North Carolina vs. Ohio
(St. Louis): 7:47 p.m. on TBS
Kentucky vs. Indiana
(Atlanta): 9:45 p.m. on CBS
Kansas vs. N.C. State
(St. Louis): 10:17 p.m. on TBS
PREGAME: Welcome to Fifth Third Arena everybody! We are gathered here today to witness a contest between the UC Bearcats and the DePaul Blue Demons. Let us take a moment to rejoice ... Lance Stephenson's epic slam against DePaul two years ago.
In fact, let's take a moment to watch Lance JAM IT IN THE HOOP!
(Gonna have to scroll down the page some, but it's worth it...)