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March 14th Jump Off

Well the dance field is set. As you can expect on the day that 200 million people, or however many people it really is, are filling out their brackets. Everything kicks off tomorrow so everyone has to get their brackets done tonight. Given all that there is an absolute torrent of information today from every conceivable source. I am going to do my best to parse the stream for valuable pieces of information. Lets get it.

Missouri Game

Missouri seeded 11th: Columbia Daily Tribune

The Tigers especially want to forget Thursday’s humbling loss at to Texas A&M as they get set to play a Cincinnati team looking to get over its own recent disappointment. The Bearcats, one of a record 11 Big East teams in the NCAA field, surrendered 89 points against Notre Dame in a 38-point loss. It was the most lopsided quarterfinal in Big East Tournament history.

The result was particularly stunning because Cincinnati (25-8, 11-7 Big East) had built its reputation on its stingy defense, which yielded a Big East-low 59.2 points. The Bearcats, led by forward Yancy Gates and guard Dion Dixon, were also fifth in the conference in scoring margin (plus-9.8).

Well, at least we have something in common.

Missouri an 11 seed: Kansas City Star

Asked if MU’s fans — who each of the last two post-seasons have seen Anderson consider job interest from Georgia and Oregon before staying at Missouri — did not deserve a more definitive answer than that, Alden said:

"I probably would not respond to that," Alden said.

That response came in the face of renewed speculation regarding who Arkansas would seek to replace Pelphrey. One ESPN analyst identified Anderson as the top target on Sunday. Another ESPN analyst said Anderson was not at the top of the Arkansas list.

Would you look at that, something else that UC fans have in common with Tiger fans. Different sport but basically the same.

NCAA invites Mizzou: STL Today

Mizzou (23-10) was seeded 11th in the West Regional after losing four of its final five games, including a blowout defeat in the Big 12 Tournament against Texas A&M.

But the suspense about a tournament berth was over just 20 minutes into the hour-long television show when Mizzou's name appeared on the bracket with No. 6 seed Cincinnati (25-8) of the Big East Conference.

Locals teams in the NCAA Tournament:

For the first time since 1961, Cincinnati, Xavier, Ohio State, Louisville and Kentucky are all going dancing in the same year.

That is a hell of a note.

West Region Preview: ESPN

6. Cincinnati is likely one of the teams to be picked to be upset in the opening round; the Bearcats face a Missouri team that probably deserved better than a No. 11 seed. Cincinnati appears vulnerable coming off a 38-point loss to Notre Dame in the Big East tournament. At the same time, there will be plenty of emotion for a veteran group that has experienced the lean years in a program that has been rebuilt by coach Mick Cronin. Win against Missouri, and Cincinnati is looking at a potential game against familiar Big East opponent Connecticut.

I can see why. The vast majority of people who fill out brackets will look at recent results. Both teams got beat in the quarters of the conference tournaments. If you look at the scores UC's is by far the worst, but that was also the worst performance of the year for this UC team.

West Region Preview: The Dagger

Ripe for an upset: No. 3 Connecticut

In a region that looks as though it could go mostly according to form in the opening two rounds, the high seed that may be somewhat vulnerable is Connecticut. Not only are the Huskies coming off a marathon Big East tournament run in which they won five games in five days, they're also more reliant on one player than any other team in the region except perhaps Arizona. Before Kemba Walker's brilliant five-game stretch at Madison Square last week, he shot poorly in the second half of the Big East season as the Huskies lost seven of 11. How he plays this weekend could determine whether the Huskies survive their second-round game against either Big East foe Cincinnati or enigmatic Missouri.

I would have to agree about the concept of UConn being ripe for an upset. But there is the Kemba Walker issue.

West Region Preview: Ballin Is A Habit

Upset Alert!!!: Texas, Cincinnati

Oakland is a very good basketball team. They operate about their center Keith Benson, a potential first round pick, who should be able to matchup with Tristan Thompson. Reggie Hamilton is a creator at the points (17.4 ppg, 5.4 apg) while Larry Wright and Will Hudson are quality role players. The Grizzlies are an excellent offensive team, so they should be able to put pressure on the Longhorns defense.

I also like Missouri over Cincinnati. I just don't think the Bearcats have the back court talent to be able to handle Missouri's press.

Good Cashmere can, bad Cashmere can't.

Other Bearcat News

The Big East's Best: Brian Bennett

Ranking Collaros is a curious challenge. The Bearcats quarterback led the league in passing yards, total offense and touchdown passes while finishing second in passer efficiency rating. He had some monster games, like those against Oklahoma (305 passing yards, three touchdowns), Louisville (five TD passes), South Florida (463 passing yards, three TDs) and Rutgers (366 passing yards, five total TDs).

Yet Collaros also threw more interceptions than any other quarterback, had a pedestrian completion percentage and put up big stats sometimes because his team's porous defense prompted Cincinnati into continual passing situations. He forced things at times and threw four interceptions against Connecticut, three against Pittsburgh and two versus West Virginia. And his team did finish 4-8.

Based on the performance on the year I think 7 is a fair number for Zach Collaros. He is obviously a tremendous talent, I think he is the most talented QB in the conference. A notch above Geno Smith, a very small notch, but a notch.

An open letter from Haruki Nakamura: 

I am proud to be a Japanese American, and honored to be one of few players in the NFL of Japanese heritage.

The aftermath of the earthquake has been felt by people of all nationalities. Those of us with family and friends over there have been frantically attempting to contact them to make sure they are alive.  I'm lucky to say that my family and friends in Japan are safe!

I know Haruki, not on a deeply personal level, but we have some mutual friends and have hung out at a few parties back in the day. He is a really interesting guy and one of my all time favorite Bearcats so it is good to hear that he and his family are doing well enough under the circumstances.

Reading This Will Make You Smarter

Owners Vs. Players: New Yorker

With the possible exception of the members of OPEC, N.F.L. owners have pretty much the coziest business arrangement imaginable: they’re effectively members of a cartel—able to limit competition, enhance bargaining power, and hold down costs. Instead of competing against each other for TV money, the owners share it, reducing risk and guaranteeing steady revenue regardless of how well they run their teams. The result of all this was nicely summed up by Richard Walden, head of sports finance at JPMorgan Chase, who said, "I’ve never seen an N.F.L. team lose money."

In case I needed another reason why I hate the NFL