After a week of voting, the first round of the first region of Down the Drive’s All-Time Favorite Cincinnati Bearcat Basketball Player Tournament has come to a close. In general, the bulk of the voting went as expected, which will set up a round of 32 that should get a little more hotly contested. Let’s take a look at how first round played out.
No. 1 Oscar Robertson defeats No. 16 Andre Tate
This was not much of a surprise, as Robertson is the most well known Bearcat and probably the best, depending on how you feel about comparing eras. With 100 percent of the vote, Robertson and his 33.8 points per game career scoring average move on.
No. 9 Rashad Bishop defeats No. 8 Octavius Ellis
Bishop pulled off the minor upset by collecting 60.3 percent of the vote against Ellis. Two players from the Cronin era battled it out here, with Ellis a standout in 2014-15 and 2015-16 while Bishop served a critical role for the teams from 2007 to 2011.
No. 4 Eric Hicks defeats No. 13 Dick Dallmer
An upset was not in the cards for Dallmer, as Hicks’ more recent contributions carried him to more than 90 percent of the vote. Hicks was a first-team all-Big East player in 2006 and is eight spots ahead of Dallmer on UC’s all-time scoring list.
No. 5 Dontonio Wingfield defeats No. 12 Dwight Jones
Even though Jones got a decent number of votes (25.9 percent), he was unable to bring us the traditional 5 vs. 12 upset. Wingfield pulled the win down much like he snagged rebounds, a category he led the Bearcats in during the 1993-94 season.
No. 2 Paul Hogue defeats No. 15 Ralph Davis
Hogue was pretty good at winning during his playing days and that continued in this tournament as the two-time national champion racked himself up 82.5 percent of the vote against Davis, who just missed out on those titles, playing on the 1959 and 1960 third place teams.
No. 10 Anthony Buford defeats No. 7 Roger McClendon
Here’s another upset, although a bit better than Bishop’s win over Ellis. Buford certainly got a leg up as part of the beloved 1992 Final Four squad plus his strong play during the rest of his career. That means its the end of the road for McClendon, UC’s single season leader for three-point field goal percentage and three-time scoring champ.
No. 3 Jim Ard defeats No. 14 Derrick McMillan
Ard probably deserves more love than he gets, but it was heartening to see him easily get to the second round. Ard had one of the best non-Oscar Robertson seasons by a Bearcat in 1969-70 when he led the team in scoring (19.2 PPG) and rebounding (15.2 RPG). McMillan was a fine player in the 80s but nowhere near as dominant as Ard could be, which is probably why he only got 26.3 percent of the vote.
No. 6 LaZelle Durden defeats No. 11 James White
The tightest vote of the region belongs to this matchup between two fan favorites. Durden accumulated 58.6 percent of the vote and scored a total of 1,219 points in his career, which edged out White and his 41.4 percent and 1,088 points.
Now that we’ve gone over the first round matchups, its time to look ahead to round two. Here’s an updated bracket with a breakdown of the round.
No. 1 Oscar Robertson vs. No. 9 Rashad Bishop
Bishop scored 890 points in his career. Robertson scored 984 as a freshman and never had less than 970. Oh yeah, and Bishop made 99 career three-pointers while Robertson played before the era of the long range jumper. Seems to me like this will be another easy one for the Big O.
No. 4 Eric Hicks vs. No. 5 Dontonio Wingfield
Hicks was a constant double-double threat during his last two seasons with Cincinnati, averaging 15 points and 9.7 rebounds per game as a senior and 13.7 and 9 as a junior. Wingfield was a one-year wonder who may not have reached the statistical milestones Hicks did, but still ingratiated himself with the fan base quite a bit.
No. 2 Paul Hogue vs. No. 10 Anthony Buford
Both of these players were part of special teams for the Bearcats. Hogue won two national titles while Buford made the Final Four. Recency bias might come into play here, but Hogue shouldn’t just be forgotten.
No. 3 Jim Ard vs. No. 6 LaZelle Durden
Durden was a first-team all-conference player in his last season with UC, but even in that season he didn’t match Ard’s best. Durden averaged 17.9 points per game as a senior and was lethal from three-point range, with six games with at least eight three-pointers during his career. Ard can counter with his stellar 1969-70 campaign, which was one of three-straight All-Missouri Valley years he put together.
The matchups have now been laid out, but its up to you to decide who moves on. Vote below and tune in next week for the next stage of this region.