Every day there are three things, here are those three things.
The three things are back, after a busy start to the new year. Whadday say we make this one a Marvin-free zone this morning?
1) Cats steal one in Philly. Last night's UC road tilt against Temple felt like about a billion Bearcats road matches over the past, I don't know, five or six years. Cincinnati struggles on offense, playing often like they're either sleepwalking or stuck in the mud, play sloppily with the ball, shoot poorly, and find a way to grind out a win by some ugly-looking score, while I go from cursing at the TV and wanting to kill myself to texting my friends about things like grit, toughness, and how much I love this team.
Jacob Evans finished on UC's theft of the win over Temple, winning a game in which Cincinnati couldn't stop turning it over, was wrecked with fouls on their bigs, had their bench (minus Cane Broome, who really needs to come back soon) get badly exposed, and continues to get curious play from Jarron Cumberland, who just doesn't look the way he did as a freshman.
But...they made enough plays at the end, got some help from Fran Dunphy's "attempted grab" of a water bottle, and picked up the kind of victory that we'll all look back on and laugh if this season goes the way I still expect it to.
They're 13-2, nationally ranked, and a safe bet to make the NCAA Tournament again. I'm nit-picking when maybe I should just be happy that Jacob Evans made arguably (that word is key) his biggest play as a Bearcat.
2) Speaking of nit-picking. It's what college basketball fans do, maybe more than fans of any other sport. I observed, but didn't chime in, what was happening on Twitter as Xavier systematically disposed of Butler the other night. Aside from free throw-shooting, I thought it was XU's best performance of the season, with the Musketeers looking far more engaged than they did in wins over teams like DePaul and ETSU, against whom Xavier looked (undestandably, to an extent) bored.
Thankfully, I was actually watching the game because glancing at Twitter without being able to see what was really happening would make you think that Xavier had a worthless team led by an overrated star that takes bad shots. You'd think that the Musketeers were a continually awful free throw-shooting team, dreadful defensively, and barely capable of finishing in the middle of the pack in the (exceptionally exciting, so far) Big East.
Fortunately, I know that none of these things are the case.
Are the Musketeers where they need to be? No.
Are they where about 320 Division One college teams could like to be? Um, yeah.
Top five team. National title contender. (Yes, I said it.) Entertaining club.
March is a long time from now. The ride to then won't always be smooth. It never is. Enjoy it anyway.
There's some hard-hitting analysis right there.
3) Good for UCF. The administration at Central Florida is pushing this "we're the true national championships" thing hard, putting their money where their mouth is by paying coaches national title bonuses, staging parade at Disney World, and hyping up their imaginary national championship status after their Peach Bowl win over Auburn pushed their final record to 13-0.
I love it.
Not because either Alabama or Georiga won't be rightful owners of the title after Monday night, and not because I believe that UCF would be either team, but because I love how what they're doing pokes at the college football establishment (which makes people like this guy really uncomfortable), gets the school and its football program some publicity it normally wouldn't have, and highlights that for all of the improvements that the College Football Playoff has made to the sport, there's still massive imperfections in determining who its champion is.
College football's biggest selling point is that every game carries such weight, which rings hollow when a team wins every game it plays and is rewarded with not even coming close to being able to play for the title.
I don't know how this changes. Based on the criteria the CFP committee used, UCF didn't belong in the top four, and as much as I'm sympathetic to their cause, you'd have a hard time convincing me that they belonged in the top eight. Expanding the field to eight teams, and including an automatic qualifier from the Group of Five would yield more blowouts in the postseason than we really want.
I don't know that there's a workable solution for schools like UCF (or for the undefeated UC team I hope to watch one day). I do know that I like their attempt to shoehorn themselves into the conversation.
Radio Show: After a week of Marvin, can we tap into some other things? I'll try, starting at 3:05 on ESPN1530.
Let's Hang Out: I'll be at The Pike in Woodlawn, with the folks at Bud Light, for the NFL Playoffs tomorrow. Hang. Drink. Win. I'll see you there.
Recommended Link Of The Day: Who Needs Trade Talks? These Days, General Managers Just Use Emojis.