Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
While our beloved Bearcats keep sinking further and further down into a hole, we fans need any kind of positive thinking. So here's my attempt at comparing similar seasons and teams...and spinning it into how UC will somehow make the Sweet 16 (of the NCAA, not NIT)
Let me preface this entire post by saying that I know all of this is very much far-fetched and not likely to happen.
Now, let's take a little stroll down memory lane. Or as they call it "Victory Parkway". It's not too far from here in fact. And not too long ago either. Think back to just one year ago and the 2011-2012 Xavier Musketeers. That team and this year's UC team are pretty similar. From preseason expectations, to mid-season struggles, to bubble talk...to the sweet 16? Perhaps.
- Last year's Xavier team was hyped preseason as potentially the first team in school history to go to the Final Four. The NCAA Tournament Final Four, not the NIT, CBI, or whatever that last tournament is.
- UC might not have been hyped as much, but Elite 8 was a goal thrown out by a lot of people. It was not out of the realm of possibilities that the Elite 8 was the natural progression after most of your sweet 16 team returns. Cash, Park, and SK all had great offseasons and were ready to lead UC to greater heights.
- Xavier rose to as high as #8 in both major polls after starting the season 8-0.
- UC also rose to as high as #8 in both major polls after starting the season 12-0.
- Shortly after the Crosstown (not even going to mention the other garbage associated with that fiasco), Xavier really struggled with its confidence and fell out of the polls.
- Shortly after the Crosstown, UC started losing close games (New Mexico, St. John's, Syracuse, Notre Dame all less than 6 point losses) and ultimately fell out of both polls.
- Down the stretch, Xavier was playing so poorly that they were mentioned as a "bubble" team.
- Same thing for UC this year, even though most "experts" see the Bearcats as still safely in. But, should the Bearcats somehow lose the next four games (Uconn, @ Louisville, USF, and Big East tourney first game) they would definitely be on the bubble.
So you all know what happened with Xavier in the NCAA Tournament. Sure they got lucky in having Duke getting upset by Lehigh in the first round, but they still managed to beat Notre Dame (not an impossible task in the month of March under Mike Brey) and reach the Sweet 16.
Can UC do that this year? Obviously that remains to be seen. They can't afford to be looking ahead. Connecticut is job number one and if they don't beat the Huskies in the return/revenge game they are staring at a four-game losing streak because they're probably not beating Louisville at the Yum! Center Monday night. Of course, I didn't think Xavier could beat Memphis without Dee Davis in the lineup and they knocked off the Tigers. But, when you have Josh Pastner on the other bench anything is possible. But that's a post for another time and another blog.
Again, I'm in no way saying UC is going to the Sweet 16 this year. I'm in no way saying the way they're playing UC is even going to make the tournament all together. What I am saying is we can't give up hope. We can't give up on the season. No matter how horrible and inept they look right now, that can change with one big win Saturday. There's a huge gorilla on this team's back right now. But perhaps all that goes away with one good win.
How's that for positive, Bearcat fans???