Monday is over. Gone. Done. Have to forget about it. Yes, they did completely melt down in the last 15 minutes, but that's got to be put in the rear view mirror. Saturday is the only thing that matters.
Up until this point, I have resisted putting UC on the proverbial "bubble". I still don't think they're there just yet. But if they should somehow lose to South Florida Saturday, in my opinion they would be squarely on that bubble they don't want any part of. This is the nightmare scenario that has been playing out in my head ever since Mike Bobinski (Xavier AD and head of the selection committee this year) said he uses the "eye test" just as much as other tools. Seeing that Xavier has knocked off Memphis and St. Louis within the last week (both at home of course. They don't own one quality road/neutral win), should UC be on the bubble my nightmare scenario is Bobinski somehow convinces the committee to leave UC out and give Xavier a bid as his final act before departing Xavier for his new post at Georgia Tech. Sure, it would be highly unprofessional, but would you put anything past anyone from Xavier at this point? I know I wouldn't.
Moving on to the other key portion of Saturday: Senior Day. A day to honor and appreciate four outstanding components to the Bearcats' recent rise back to where they (and fans) have been more accustomed. It hopefully will be the last home game for Cashmere Wright (RS Senior), JaQuon Parker (true senior), Cheikh Mbodj (JC transfer), and obviously to a lesser extent walk-on Alex Eppensteiner.
Cheikh has had a good UC career. Hopefully two NCAA trips and has been an excellent defender in his time in Clifton. Mostly as Yancy's backup last year, I'll mostly remember him for pretty much single-handedly winning the Miami game with an eye-popping three-pointer as the shot clock expired.
Alex, as per usual, has become a fan favorite at the end of blowout wins. Aren't walk-ons as popular as the backup quarterback? Perhaps he'll even get to start Saturday's game. I believe Mick has been inconsistent (his choice for sure) on whether all seniors get to start Senior Day. If Mick deems Saturday as a "must win" - and he probably should - I'm not sure how much he wants to play Eppensteiner. However, with as poorly as UC typically starts games, what would be the harm in letting Alex start and play a couple minutes?
JaQuon Parker will pretty much forever be known as the driving force behind the Sweet 16 run last year. Despite his smallish frame, Parker was a man amongst men and practically collected every loose ball and tough rebound in traffic and willed the Bearcats to newer heights in the Mick Cronin era. He has suffered a little this year with more pressure on him to score but the drive and will to win will never fade and he will go down as one of my favorite Bearcats of all time.
Cashmere Wright. I first saw Cash play at the AAU event hosted by Adidas and UC at 5/3 Arena when Cash had just de-committed from Clemson. Sitting with Brett Stein and Chad Brendel (oh yes I name dropped) we watched this (at the time) lightning quick point guard and wondered if he wouldn't be a better fit than (at the current time UC lean) Dee Bost (Mississippi State). Fast forward six years (senior year in high school plus redshirt year) and you have the man who holds the all-time UC record for steals in a career and fearless leader of the Bearcats. There have been better players at UC, but not many who have been through the pain and agony like Cashmere Wright. Countless shoulder injuries and three knee surgeries have tried to keep him down, but like a true Bearcat he keeps getting right back up.
Cash's performance at Louisville was the ONLY positive taken from that fiasco. But, perhaps if we see a little more of that guy, UC stands a puncher's chance in the Big East Tournament and beyond. I won't assume UC is in the NCAA Tournament until they win a few more games. Especially with Bobinski running things.
I'm not usually going to tell people how to spend their money or time, but if you're on the fence about showing up for Saturday's game please try to make it. These kids are outstanding kids and a model representation of Bearcat Nation and the University of Cincinnati. Not one misstep amongst the four of them. No incidents. No arrests. Nothing. They deserve our appreciation and respect no matter what happens the rest of the season. I, for one, am proud to have them in red and black and will clap for them until my hands hurt. Hope to see you there, and as always GO BEARCATS!!!