Every day there are three things, here are those three things.
(Photo: Getty Images)
1) A confirmation of every UC fan's worst fears. The Bearcats lost a road game to Houston last night, which on the surface is no big deal. They're 23-3 and in the driver's seat for the league's regular season title. They have a good chance at getting a favorable seed in the NCAA Tournament, and losing to a possible tournament team on one of their temporary home floors is neither going to derail Cincinnati's season or ruin their resume.
But what last night was, was the realization of our worst fears about this team: That the offense will come to a stop against quality opponents when the Bearcats are playing away from home.
Every Final Four hopeful either has a flaw or something that might make you think that it'll catch up to them in March - a lot of people walked away from Xavier's win over Seton Hall on Wednesday night as concerned about the XU's defense as ever. With UC, we're always going to wonder if they can score enough when the opponents get difficult and the games matter the most.
Maybe it can. The Bearcats are as talented as they've been in a very long time, and when things are clicking, they can score in a number of different ways.
But when they're not, will UC's offense look like it did last night?
It wasn't just that UC shot poorly, or that they simply didn't score, what's most troublesome is how they looked. How many times did Jacob Evans take eight seconds to walk the ball over the midcourt line? How often did it take until they were deep into the shot clock to initiate their offense? How infrequently did a UC player try to make a one-on-one move? How many times did you yell at the TV begging the Bearcats to be more aggressive?
There were other problems last night. UC was outrebounded by nine while volleying a number of missed Houston shots that fell into the hands of the Cougars. They left eight points at the free throw line (to be fair, they shot an acceptable 75% for the game). They turned it over 13 times against a defense that never pressured the ball. And aside from Nysier Brooks grabbing five rebounds, their bench was a non-factor, something that's kept the Bearcats from maintaining leads more than once this season.
But the main culprit was the offense. The loss itself is not worth overreacting to, although UC Twitter went out of its way last night to be apocalyptic. Even the they way the team played, in a vacuum, is no big deal. Good teams play poorly sometimes.
But even as this UC team might be equipped for a run in March, the big concerns remain about what will happen to their offense against quality opponents.
Last night did nothing to ease them.
2) Far more sobering than anything happening on the court. This, from Yahoo's Pete Thamel....
The soundtrack to the three federal basketball corruption cases is essentially a ticking time bomb, which will inevitably explode. It will impact every major conference, Hall of Fame coaches, a score of current top players and some of the nation’s most distinguished and respected programs.
Multiple sources who’ve been briefed on the case and are familiar with the material obtained by feds told Yahoo Sports that the impact on the sport will be substantial and relentless. Sitting under protective order right now are the fruits of 330 days of monitoring activity by the feds, which one assistant US Attorney noted Thursday was “a voluminous amount of material.” That includes wiretaps from 4,000 intercepted calls and thousands of documents and bank records obtained from raids and confiscated computers, including those from notorious NBA agent Andy Miller.
“This goes a lot deeper in college basketball than four corrupt assistant coaches,” said a source who has been briefed on the details of the case. “When this all comes out, Hall of Fame coaches should be scared, lottery picks won’t be eligible to play and almost half of the 16 teams the NCAA showed on its initial NCAA tournament show this weekend should worry about their appearance being vacated.”
So this will be fun, and if any of it comes out in the coming weeks, well, then this year's NCAA Tournament will be a blast.
This was asked of me on the aforementioned podcast I was a guest on last night....will this investigation turn people off on college basketball?
My response: Why would it?
If you've been a college basketball fan for a while, you've endured a billion different scandals, you've watched as the notion of amateurism has turned out to be a complete sham, you've seen the influence of shoe companies, AAU coaches, agents, and all sorts of seedy characters infiltrate the sport, and we've all nodded along complicity knowing how some schools acquire players.
And this is going to turn you off?
I say this should turn you on. The cheaters are about to be revealed, and while it'll be painful for fans of the programs that have to deal with the consequences, if this is what's needed to clean the sport up, then so be it. The games themselves will continue to be really, really good. The sport will continue to yield great storylines, quality players, interesting coaches, and entertaining games. All of that should be good enough to keep your attention. The cleansing of college basketball taking places while all of this continues to happen will be a bonus.
3) The Bengals suffer their first loss of 2018. AJ McCarron won his grievance against the Bengals, which means that he's a free agent. I'm going to write at length separately about what this will mean for the Bengals and Andy Dalton, but here's a spoiler...
They should draft a quarterback to serve as Andy's backup in the short-term and to possible (key word: possibly) replace Andy when he asks them for a substantial pay raise as his free agency approaches.
As for AJ, he did exactly what the Bengals drafted him to do: serve capably as the backup. He played adequately enough when he was called upon at the end of the 2015 season, and he nearly helped deliver a playoff win against the Steelers, which would've made him a hero here for the rest of his life. When the walls were closing in on Andy Dalton early last season, AJ spoke up in support of his quarterback, which says something about both AJ's character and the team's overall lack of leadership.
I hope AJ does well wherever he goes.
His case will be interesting, because we'll finally get a chance to see how much the league values him, and assuming he gets a chance to start, we'll finally see if he's capable of holding down a starting gig in the NFL. We'll see if teams view him as a better option than Kirk Cousins simply because he'll be cheaper. And we could see an interesting dynamic in Cleveland if AJ signs with the Browns and reunites with Hue Jackson. What else would the Browns do at QB? How AJ simply be a bridge to a guy they draft this spring? How does DeShone Kizer factor in? Would McCarron have a new head coach in 2019?
The frustrating thing for us as Bengals fans is that McCarron came this close to being traded to the Browns for two early-round picks last season. Instead, AJ will leave and the Bengals will only get a compensatory pick back in return. Meanwhile, Andy needs a backup, AJ gets a chance to prove his value, and I'm sure there's a lot of people hoping for failure for the former and success for the latter so they can say they were right about Andy and AJ all along.
Radio Show: I'm in for Lance tonight on 700WLW, starting at 6:05. Hot sports takes on a Friday night. What could be better?
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