Kentucky's Quest For NCAA Gold Passes Through  C-USA Foe Cincinnati

Tomorrow evening, approximately 8:10 pm, the world will learn whether the 2004-05 Kentucky Wildcats will meet the challenge of their manhood that the Cincinnati Bearcats intend to deliver.

For the third season in a row, Kentucky's NCAA quest encounters a C-USA opponent that the Cats figure they should beat.  At least the vast majority of fans believe the Cats should defeat them.  For the second year in a row, this encounter occurs in the Second Round of play.  Kentucky has lost the previous two C-USA match-ups. 

The opponent this time is Cincinnati.  You remember!  The same Bearcats that refused to engage the Cats in true competition and put the ball on ice.  Kentucky won 24 - 11.  I was there that night at Riverfront.  Joe Hall promised Kentucky would never schedule another game with them, or anyone who is unwilling to participate in the game.

Ever since this non-game encounter with the Bearcats, the Bearcats have coveted a regularly scheduled, home and home series with the Cats, but Kentucky has denied them this privilege.  Kentucky seems to simply ignore that Cincinnati plays basketball.  Is it any wonder that the opportunity to play the Cats on Saturday has a ring of destiny, or a mission for God, in the Bearcat ears. 

It seems as though the reverberating memory of Marquette and UAB, together with the Crusades type mission that the Bearcats sense have placed some Cat fans, including the writer, back on our heels.  However, let's look at some factors about this match-up

True that the Bearcats have a front line that should exploit Kentucky's rebounding woes.  However, Cincinnati's guards are prone to turnovers, and Kentucky's defense is among the best I have seen at forcing turnovers.  If the guards can't control the offensive sets consistently to work to the inside, Cincinnati's natural advantage may be diminished.

The experts, who make their living on such things say Kentucky is a 2 point favorite for this game, with an over/under of 135.  In other words, they predict a 69 - 67 Kentucky win.  My analysis indicates a 70 - 69 Kentucky win.

Lest we forget, the Huggins' led Bearcats have fallen away in either the first or second round of the NCAA tournament in 7 of the last 8 years.  They did survive the first round this year to earn this second round match up with their non-rival rivals.  

Many Kentucky fans also recognize that the Cats, under Coach Smith's leadership, has also had trouble advancing deep into the NCAA tournament in recent years.  However, in this match up of "flame outs" I pick Coach Smith.

Tomorrow night at 8:10 pm, we will learn whether the 2004-05 Cats have the intestinal fortitude that will be necessary when the Cincinnati Bearcats bring their game to the Cats, and challenge the Cats' manhood.  I Can't Wait!



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Copyright 2004 Richard Cheeks
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