Only two hours of driving separate Cincinnati and Columbus; but when the Buckeyes and the Bearcats take the court tonight it will be the first time they’ve played against each other, in a game of this magnitude, in over 50 years.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are a #2 seed in the tournament and are the favorite without a doubt. They played in a very good Big Ten Conference this season and earned a share of a Regular Season Conference Championship. They were considered one of the favorites to win the National Championship at the beginning of the season and have put themselves in a position to do just that. However, the Bearcats have been an underdog in many instances this season and that hasn’t fazed them.
The Cats have established themselves as a very good basketball program again and are two wins away from doing something they haven’t done in over 20 years: reach the Final Four.
I can’t think of a better way to do that, than to beat the Buckeyes along the way. It makes sense that the Bearcats are not favored and that Ohio State has more star players on their team. It is fitting that most experts have picked against the Bearcats.
But, deep down we all know what the perfect headline would say after the buzzer sounds tonight: ‘The #6 Seed Bearcats Upset the #2 Seed Ohio State Buckeyes in a Thriller’. I am not saying it is going to happen because Ohio State is a very good basketball team, who can beat anyone in the country. But, would it surprise me if UC won tonight? No, because this basketball team believes it can win tonight. If they believe it, why shouldn’t the fans believe it?
I wrote a column before the Big East Tournament with the title, “Why Not Us?” I truly believed in this team and even though they came up short, they proved they could play with some of the best teams in the country. There’s no need to ask any more questions.
If you do not believe in this team now, I am not sure you ever will. I believe and maybe that belief will hold true and the Bearcats will pull off an upset to reach an Elite Eight berth in the NCAA Tournament. It may be a long shot, but if anyone is fit to pull of an upset like this it is Mick Cronin’s Cats.
They have shown toughness and persevered through plenty of battles with teams that are bigger, stronger and faster. The Bearcats haven't given us a reason to doubt them thus far, so there is no reason not to believe they can win tonight.
Let’s hope they can pull it off and earn a chance to play on Saturday with a Final Four Bid on the line.