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Q&A Preview: Cincinnati vs UConn AAC Tournament Edition

In a preview of Friday's quarterfinal between Cincinnati and UConn, we took some time to chat with our friends (aka hated enemies) from The UConn Blog about the matchup, bracketology, Hamilton and revenge.

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We may have been robbed of the chance to see a rematch between Cincinnati and UConn in the American Athletic Conference title game, but seeing the two rivals mix it up in the quarterfinals is fine as well. With two wins over UConn in their back pocket, the Bearcats are looking to go for No. 3. We took some time to discuss the impending battle with Aman Kidwai from The UConn Blog.

Daniel Hamilton robbed Gary Clark of Freshman of the Year honors last season. First, will you publicly apologize for that injustice? Second, how has Hamilton developed in his sophomore season? Also, what is your favorite song from Hamilton: An American Musical and why?

Aman Kidwai (The UConn Blog): I suppose you also think Sean Kilpatrick should have won POY instead of Shabazz in 2014? In the words of Futurama's Hedonism Bot, I apologize for nothing!

Hamilton's sophomore season has been a bit of a mystery. It started off very strong but has tapered a bit. He is posting nearly identical, or only slightly better, stats than last season, has struggled with his shooting and doesn't really seem to have that killer instinct to take over games.

He's still very much a key player on this team, especially with his passing and rebounding ability- Hamilton leads the team in boards and assists.

I have not seen the musical (hides under desk).

Editor's note: I hold no ill will against Napier's player of the year win. Still fuming against Clark's snub.

Cincinnati and UConn seem to always play in tight and ruthless games. How do you cope with watching 40 minutes of brutality?

Every UConn-Cincinnati game is a blessing! In a schedule filled with UCF, Tulane, etc., Cincinnati is one of the match-ups which I look forward to most on the conference slate. You have to just appreciate the slugfests that our games have always been. Plus, defense wins championships, right?

A major reason for the low scoring is the defensive acumen of both squads. What is it that UConn does well defensively? What do the Huskies need to do to succeed against UC’s defense?

Defensively, UConn plays aggressively on the perimeter, and will mix it up across a game with some zone and some full-court press, but really it seems like UConn's defensive success is due to the coaching. Kevin Ollie and his staff make sure the players take great pride in their defense and it reflects on the court.

Oh yeah, having a 7-foot human eraser in the low post also helps.

Defensive performance tends to be more consistent than offensive, so being better on that end helps keep games competitive even when they shouldn't or if you are overmatched. I think our coaches and players know and understand that concept quite well.

Against Cincinnati, or anyone really, UConn needs to take open shots when they have them, stop mindlessly moving the ball around the perimeter with no plan, and become more proficient at making lay-ups. UConn also needs to send the ball down low to Shonn Miller more often.

Both UC and UConn are bubble teams. Some bracketologists have both in, some have only one, do you think the Huskies will be in the field no matter what or do they need to make a run in the conference tourney to secure a spot?

Honestly, I have no idea. I think UConn needs to win at least one to be solidly in the field but you can make a very strong case for the Huskies even if they lose Friday.

As for Cincinnati, I think they should be in no matter what. Unfortunately, we know how the selection committee feels about the American so my feelings are that the winner Friday probably gets in and the other gets left out.

Who is this season’s Kemba/Shabazz?
Unfortunately, this year there does not appear to be one. Hamilton hasn't taken over. Rodney Purvis had a lot of hype but has been coming off the bench lately. Technically speaking, it's freshman point guard Jalen Adams, who's future you should be very afraid of, but his overall impact will understandably not reach Shabazzian levels of devastation this year.

With two losses on the ledger against UC already this season, what needs to change for the Huskies to exact revenge?

The UConn offense needs to be much better, which is obviously a tall task against a great Cincinnati defense. Though the Husky offense has been disappointing, it is capable of finding a nice rhythm if shots go down early. UConn fans need to hope that Friday afternoon is one of those times, otherwise it might be the last meaningful game of the season.

Lastly, who wins and why? (Hint: The correct answer is Cincinnati).

I think UConn wins, because I don't want to imagine a world where they lose.

Editor's note: How hard is it to answer Cincinnati? I GAVE YOU THE ANSWER RIGHT IN THE QUESTION.