Category Archives: Cincinnati Bearcats

Five quick college football predictions

I should really get out of the prediction business; I’m terrible at it.

Quitters never win.

Here are five very quick predictions I have on this college football season…

1. Alabama wins the national championship. Mount Union wins the Div. III national championship. Perhaps you’ve seen this movie before.

2. I am previously on record with this: Ball State will get to 12-1 by beating 9-4 Ohio in the MAC Championship Game.

3. There’s plenty of hype surrounding Louisville, but the Cardinals will lose their season finale at Cincinnati and the Bearcats will claim the AAC’s last automatic BCS bid.

4. Braxton Miller will sit on the stage at the Downtown Athletic Club for the Heisman Trophy ceremony in December. Johhny Manziel will sit there, too. A.J. McCarron will win it, and we’ll all hope Katherine Webb is there.

5. Ohio State will win. And win big. And win its first 11 games, then lose at Michigan. Then, the Buckeyes will turn the tables on the Wolverines and win the following week in the Big Ten Championship Game to get to 12-1 and earn a trip to the Rose Bowl, where they’ll beat Stanford.

Ohio flavor on World University Games team

USA Basketball’s roster for the World University Games is set — and it has a strong Ohio flavor.

Among those making the final cut announced Saturday were Adreian Payne (Dayton/Michigan State), Aaron White (Strongsville/Iowa) and Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick.

A minicamp with 26 players began last week, and the 12-man roster will train through Monday in Colorado Springs and depart for Russia on July 1. World University Games play begins on July 7.

Other notable names on the roster include Final Four MVP Luke Hancock of Louisville, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Treveon Graham of VCU and a pair of Indiana Hoosiers, Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell.

Davidson’s Bob McKillop will coach Team USA and is assisted by Michigan’s John Beilein and South Carolina’s Frank Martin.

AFC North getting richer in NFL Draft

Two days in, I think all four AFC North teams have to be pleased with what they’ve accomplished in the NFL Draft.

You’re supposed to love your own draft, I know. But these teams have added pieces and filled needs without huge reaches, desperate trades or interesting, um, logic.

The Browns haven’t had a spectacular two-pick draft. But they’ve had a solid one, adding pieces at key position and resisting the urge to chase a quarterback who isn’t ready or mortgage future selections. The Browns are building assets, slowly, with an eye on 2014 and beyond.

The Bengals are ready to compete for the division title. They might have scored a big-time runner in Gio Bernard on Friday, a night after adding Tyler Eifert to the pass-catching mix and the pick before they got a tantalizing project of a pass rusher in Margus Hunt. Safety Shawn Williams should come game ready; he’ll need to.

There are pieces in place for a big season (or few seasons) in Cincinnati. It’s still about beating the Ravens, first, and playing like the Bengals belong, not like they’re always trying to prove that they do.

The Ravens traded up in the second round to get Arthur Brown, who must have had medical concerns to drop that far. He plays linebacker, by the way, and the Ravens just lost one of those, right? The Ravens track record says it was a gamble worth taking. They’ve added three defensive players in looking to reload, not rebuild, a defense that finally took a back seat to the offense last season — and the Ravens won a Super Bowl.

The Steelers are still the Steelers. They still need to protect Ben Roethlisberger and they still have age and money issues, but they filled needs Friday with Columbus native Le’Veon Bell at running back and an absolute flyer at receiver in Markus Wheaton, who isn’t Mike Wallace – who is? – but can be an instant impact guy.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Steelers got Wallace in the third round, too.

The Browns are playing for the future and drafting to eventually keep pace with the quarterbacks their division rivals have; eventually, too, they’ll get one of their own. The Steelers are trying to maximize the years their quarterback has left. The Bengals need their quarterback to be ready for the big games and big expectations ahead.

I really, really like what the Bengals have done in this draft. They — the Browns, too — need to do it every year since the Ravens and Steelers pretty much have for a long time, with few exceptions (and fewer in Baltimore).

The Ravens finally found a quarterback, and they’re the team everybody is chasing. Come fall, we’ll see if the Bengals are ready to be division royalty and if the Steelers can show that last year was simply that one year they have every now and then.

What I think the committee is thinking

Posted 1:01 p.m. Updated 4:09 p.m.

I am a committee of one. I know stuff.

If you’ve ever been to this blog, you probably were familiar with that concept.

Today, though, most eyes are on the NCAA tournament selection committee and the final results of that group’s work. Sixty-eight teams are going to be seeded, bracketed and sent to eight sites for games starting on Thursday.

Here’s my best guess at what we’ll see a little after 6 o’clock tonight. Again, this is my guess at what the committee will do, not what I think it should do.

My guess at the No. 1 seeds

Midwest – Louisville (No. 1 overall)
East – Miami
South – Indiana
West – Gonzaga

My guess at the No. 2 seeds

Midwest – Duke
East – Florida
South – Georgetown
West – Kansas

I’m beginning to like the No. 2 seeds better than I like the No. 1 seeds.

I think Ohio State is a 3 seed, Cincinnati is an 11 seed and Akron could be a 12, but probably is a 13. The absence of Alex Abreu certainly affects that and keeps the Zips from being seeded higher.

I think Wisconsin, Saint Louis and Michigan are No. 4 seeds; I think Michigan State and New Mexico are No. 3 seeds. I have other thoughts, too, but there are games to watch.

I don’t think the committee cares much about the currently ongoing Big Ten championship game.

My thoughts on the bubble, on which Ole Miss no longer lives…

Iowa – Out

Boise State – In

Kentucky – Out

Middle Tennessee – In

Saint Mary’s – In

Southern Miss – Out

LaSalle – Out

Temple – In

Tennessee – In

Cal – In

Louisiana Tech – Out

UMass – Out

Villanova – Out

Virginia – Out

I think the toughest, closest calls there are with LaSalle, Tennessee and Villanova. I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

A little bubble-watching viewer’s guide

If I was a potential NCAA Tournament bubble team (or a fan of a potential bubble team), and for purposes of this blog entry I mean mostly Akron and to a lesser extent Cincinnati, this is what I’d be rooting for over the next several days.

By the next several days, I mean the end of the regular season for most teams and in the conference tournaments that have already started or start over the next 48 hours. We’ll dive into this discussion again next week before the Big East, Big Ten, MAC and most of the rest of the country start their conference tournaments.

So, without futher ado, here’s what those aforementioned teams should be rooting for…

*Belmont to win the Ohio Valley Tournament.

*Middle Tennessee to win the Sun Belt Tournament.

*Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s to win the West Coast Tournament. BYU (or someone else) winning it would be stealing a bid.

*Kentucky to lose at Georgia on Thursday, then at home to Florida on Saturday. The obvious preference is both. A win over Florida would be really big for Kentucky’s shaky NCAA Tournament resume; a loss to Georgia certainly wouldn’t help it.

*Whether a more qualified Akron team would actually make the field over Kentucky because Akron is, well, Akron and Kentucky is Kentucky is a different argument. We’ll dive more into that next week.

*Cincinnati, just in case, would like the likes of Oregon, Iowa State, Marshall and Xavier to win. It so happens that it’s less important — but still potentially important — to Akron’s computer profile that Oklahoma State beats Iowa State Wednesday night. Iowa State needs that game.

*Boise State looks like a tournament team and pretty much as a tournament resume, but the Broncos play San Diego St. on Saturday and quite possibly again in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament. In Ohio, folks will be rooting for the Aztecs.

*Georgetown to beat Villanova on Wednesday, Butler to beat UMass on Thursday, LaSalle to lose to Saint Louis on Saturday and VCU to beat Temple on the same day.

*This is just a template and some ideas; it’s entirely possible Akron won’t need an at-large bid and Cincinnati will play itself up a few seed lines and away from a potential and/or perceived bubble. But the Bearcats need some wins, or they might need some help.

From the NFL Combine: Marvin Lewis joins chorus saying Browns as built should be OK

All last season I opined that whoever coached the Browns in 2013 would benefit from the work that took place in 2012.

The foundation had been built for future success — and that work was done by Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur.
Now that Jimmy Haslam has taken over the team, Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and Rob Chudzinski should benefit.

Marvin Lewis agrees.

The Bengals coach was asked about the new regime taking over the Browns.

“They are inheriting a much better football team,” Lewis said. “They’ve done a nice job over the last couple of years of the addition of guys through the draft and watching them grow.”

Lewis continued.

“They are a much better football team than what their record showed,” he said. “It was a team that was improving. In my mind they were going in the right direction.”

We shall see.

Four with Ohio ties on Wooden Award list

Four players with Ohio ties are among the 25 midseason nominees for the Wooden Award, college basketball’s most prestigious honor.

The four on the list are, in alphabetical order, Michigan’s Trey Burke, Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum and Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas.

Burke, a Columbus native, has played well enough to rank among the leading candidates to win the Wooden Award thus far. Michigan is undefeated and No. 2 nationally heading into Sunday’s game at Ohio State.

Thomas is leading the Big Ten in scoring, and Kilpatrick has been the leader for a Cincinnati team that started 12-0 but has lost two of three since. McCollum broke a bone in his foot last week and is likely to miss the rest of the season. The Canton, Ohio native was leading the nation at 25.7 points per game when he suffered the injury.

The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation’s top 10 players, will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. The John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year will be announced during Final Four Weekend in Atlanta.

Kilpatrick is one of five Big East players on the list of 25. The Big 10 and Big 12 have four apiece.

CBB notes: Kilpatrick, Ohio teams on fire, big games ahead

College basketball, anyone?

The Big Ten-ACC Challenge starts tonight and brings some pretty good games with No. 1 Indiana hosting No. 13. North Carolina and No. 18 NC State at No. 3 Michigan.

No. 2 Duke hosts No. 4 Ohio State on Wednesday night. After Duke beat Minnesota, VCU and Louisville in three straight days last weekend to win a tournament in the Bahamas, the Blue Devils deserve some serious consideration at No. 1.

Ohio State can serve notice that it truly belongs in the top five, too. Should be a good one.

ON THE PROWL: Red-hot Cincinnati served notice that it is for real, too, by beating Iowa State and Oregon over the weekend in Las Vegas. The Bearcats are up to No. 16 in this week’s coaches poll and host Alabama as part of the Big East-SEC Challenge on Saturday.

Sean Kilpatrick was named Big East Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 32 points against Iowa State then getting 16 vs. Oregon. He’s averaging 21 points per game on the season for the 6-0 Bearcats.

A game that might bring a little attention is Cincinnati vs. Xavier in what’s now carefully called the Crosstown Showdown, not the Shootout, on Dec. 19. Xavier went 2-1 over the holiday weekend at the DirecTV Classic in Southern California.

MORE AWARDS: The Big East Rookie of the Week was Jakarr Sampson of St. John’s, a native of Akron who played at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School before transferring to Brewster (N.H.) Academy.

The uber-athletic, 6’8 Sampson is averaging 12.3 points and a team-best 6.2 rebounds per game.

This video from St. John’s Midnight Madness in October offers a glimpse at Sampson’s athleticism.

ANOTHER HOT START: The 5-0 Ohio Bobcats are up to No. 3 in the latest collegeinsider.com Top 25 poll.

Considering Ohio’s entire team is back from last year’s Sweet 16 run, there’s no reason the Bobcats shouldn’t be getting national top 25 votes.

Creighton is No. 1 in the mid-major poll, ahead of Gonzaga. One spot behind Ohio at No. 4 is Murray State, which plays at Dayton on Dec. 22. Akron is No. 17 in this week’s mid-major poll.

Akron plays at Creighton on Dec. 9 as part of a tough stretch that starts this Sunday vs. Middle Tennessee State and ends on Dec. 15 at Detroit.

There’s a good but under the radar game of local interest Wednesday night as Kent State is at Youngstown State. Kent State is off a road win at Nebraska last weekend.

Big East announces 2013 football divisions

The Big East has announced its football divisions for next season, when the league expands to 12 teams.

East Division

UCF

Cincinnati

Connecticut

Louisville

Rutgers

USF

West Division

Boise State

Houston

Memphis

San Diego State

SMU

Temple

The new, season-ending conference championship game will be played at a home field, not a neutral site. Cross-division matchups will be announced next month.

Ohio well represented on Wooden Award list

Preseason college basketball award lists don’t mean much, but they probably mean more than preseason rankings.

They’re a barometer — at both best and worst — of what’s expected, and the Wooden Award list points to another big year for Ohio college basketball.

Among the 50 preseason nominees for college basketball’s highest honor are Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick, Ohio University’s D.J. Cooper and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas. Also on the Wooden list are two Ohio natives, Michigan point guard Trey Burke (Columbus) and Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum (Canton).

Of the 50 preseason nominees, nine play in the Big Ten and seven play in the Big East.