Blog Entry

I have to address Cinci's non-con schedule

Posted on: September 16, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 12:38 pm
By Matt Norlander

This post isn't spawned by news; rather, by stewing. Cincinnati's out-of-conference schedule was released more than two months ago. I've been sitting on thoughts about it for a good while now. And if I attack UConn and Northwestern over their lackadaisical, somewhat-gutless scheduling, I have to put the Bearcats on trial, too. 

I just don't get it. The team should be good this season. Top-25 worthy, even. After reaching the NCAA tournament last year, Mick Cronin accomplished something a lot of people -- yours truly included -- didn't think was going to happen.

Yet coming off that year, this is what Cronin assembles for his group?
  • Nov. 1 vs. McGill University
  • Nov. 8 vs. Northern Kentucky
  • Nov. 13 vs. Alabama State
  • Nov. 15 vs. Jacksonville State
  • Nov. 19 vs. Presbyterian
  • Nov. 21 vs. Northwestern State
  • Nov. 25 vs. Marshall
  • Nov. 29 vs. Miami (Ohio)
  • Dec. 2 at Georgia 
  • Dec. 10 at Xavier
  • Dec. 14 at Wright State
  • Dec. 17 vs. Radford
  • Dec. 21 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 
  • Dec. 23 vs. Chicago State
  • Dec. 29 vs. Oklahoma
The only major-conference opponents are Georgia and Oklahoma, two teams that, I'm out on a limb here and calling it now, will have a hard time making the NCAA tournament in 2012. Xavier's a great game, but it's a rivalry game; it's baked into the schedule each year, so Cronin gets no credit for organizing it.

One of the things I love about college basketball is seeing programs at any level rise up from what they once were and succeed. Schools that do this usually schedule with a lot of ambition, consequences be damned. Others get timid and line up weaklings throughout November and December. Cincinnati's done that again.

Last year's schedule was just as weak. Now, you can see where Cronin could be coming from. Line up the patsies, bank on winning most, if not all of the games, then tread water in the toughest conference in the country and hope the formula at the end of the season lands you into the 68-team tournament. They did it last year and got in with room to spare. If that's the method, it can and has worked for clubs before. But it's also backfired. We've seen plenty of teams approach their seasons with this philosophy, only to either stumble too frequently against bad teams (therefore putting themselves under the gun by the time conference play starts), or they don't get challenged enough in the non-con and can't take the punches against the league in January and February.

Cronin's done a disservice to his talented team that, while it will get a great intra-conference slate, really won't feel the adrenaline rush hit until after New Year's. I'd love to get an explanation as to why it had to be laid out like this, but reaching Cronin on this issue has been fruitless as of late.

Category: NCAAB

Since: Sep 18, 2011
Posted on: September 20, 2011 11:00 am

I have to address Cinci's non-con schedule

Grimdogg,  For years I've wondered why these schools don't schedule some sort of annual tourney or round robin -- it wouldn't have quite the pizzazz of Philly's Big 5, but it sure would generate a lot of regional pride and interest.  UC, Miami, Dayton, and X would be a good core to start with, since they mostly play each other every year anyway.  Add in at least two of Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue, Kentucky, Lousiville, Notre Dame, and Butler and you've got a really good field. Fillout the field with lesser regional D1 teams from the MAC, Horizon, etc.  8 teams, first games on campus, then a round robin winners bracket and losers bracket -- a total of 4 games for everyone.  IMHO, Michigan and Michigan State are a bit far afield, and you forgot Purdue in your list of solid regional programs.  The winner's braket would be a made for TV natural!

On another matter, I find it amusing that Cincy fans use UK and Ohio State's unwillingness to play the Bearcats as justification for the annual tour of Cupcake State teams.  Last time I looked, there were about 40 other programs in the country who might like a home and home with the 'Cats.  X doesn't have any problem getting good OOC games -- this year's slate includes Georgia, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Cincinnati, Butler, Gonzaga, Memphis, and a trip to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic.  And of course Wake backed out of the Skip Prosser Classic game because they suck this year. I know that the A-10 has a lot of weaker teams and X needs a strong OOC schedule to wind up with a dect SOS come tourney time, but they really don't need ALL those heavyweights on the slate; the contrast to UC's method of preparing for the conference season is pretty obvious. 

Though I'm mostly an X fan, I do root for the 'Cats in all but one game a year, and I'm concercerned that they just haven't been sufficiently battle-tested each year when they enter Big East play.  I'd also be somewhat miffed if I were a UC season ticket holder and had to watch nothing but a string of 30 point blowouts until January every year.  Mick seems to have weathered most of the hatred directed at him by the Huggy Bear loyalists -- by gradually rebuilding that program and showing that he's a competent recruiter and game coach.  So maybe he'll get a bit more aggressive with the OOC schedule in the future.  I sure hope so.  

Since: May 7, 2011
Posted on: September 19, 2011 9:22 am

Then Tell ESPN & CBS To Make It Happen

C'mon Norlander let's get real.  Cincinnati has requested to play Ohio State and Kentucky every year for the past 40 since it's only a 2 hour bus trip from one school to the other.  The reasons Ohio State fans have for not playing us is the National Championship games the year they finally grew a pair was the worst year in recent memory for the Bearcats.  They finally do a Big-East SEC challenge this year and instead of renewing what was once an annual rivalry with Kentucky they give us Georgia.  Maybe Kentucky fans should just get over the stall ball game.  Then last year Cincy was scheduled to play Duke on ESPN but instead ESPN gave Duke to it's former commentator Steve Lavin in addition to a lopsided rematch with Butler.

In other words Norlander tell the TV gods to schedule Cincinnati to play top tier talent week in and week out and I guarantee Mick Cronin and the Cats show up.  They're not scared to play anybody.

Ultimately ESPN and CBS should promote an annual matchup between all of the following schools in this region for their  OOC conference (Excluding the 3 BEast schools, and 4 Big Eleven who already play each other at least once annually.
Cincinnati, Kentucky, Ohio State, Xavier, Louisville, Indiana, Butler, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, and Miami (OH).  The travel costs for each school for these games would be nothing compared to bringing in teams from across the country and I guarantee the viewership in this area for each of these games would be killer.  As a matter of fact make a ESPN trophy for whoever has the best record coming out of these annual matchups.  Due this in football also and see how many people watch each game.

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: September 18, 2011 4:51 pm

I have to address Cinci's non-con schedule

Louisville plays at Butler in Hinkle this year

Since: Feb 3, 2011
Posted on: September 16, 2011 6:37 pm

I have to address Cinci's non-con schedule

I just read Villanova's schedule and its just as bad or worse?  What people like this writer dont understand is in the big east you have 18 games that you can lose.  A great yr is 11-7.   You have 1 injury or bad week and you are 7-11 just ask Georgetown or Villanova.    Cincinnati isnt able to get in Maui or other big tourney's so they must follow Cuse and Nova and not play too many games.    I said 4 yrs ago Cronin was scheduling too tough early and it cost him in yr 3 and 4 cause if those teams would have played schedules like last yr and this yr they would have been in the tourney.   In the big east you must enter with no more then 2 losses ...period.......the SOS takes care of itself ,.....see UC last yr was 55 or so.......that was as good or better then many teams in the dance.

Big East teams dont get 12 automatic wins like other top schools in other leagues.   You cant risk it....if you do and lose 3 or 4 you are on the bubble all yr and end up with a bad seed.     
Look at Nova schedule and tell me its any better, they dont leave Philly......til Jan........

Marshall is picked by many to win Cusa,  XU at XU is a tougher game then playing ANY BCS school but maybe Duke or Kansas.......At GA is no joke, and at Wirght st ,  is any other BCS school going to a horizon home floor???  

The thing I dont like is the 10 gimme's everyone plays who cares if they are 100 or 200 or 250 rpi so what they are automatic wins...period  Does it matter if its William and Mary or Southwest texas state u it doesnt......

Schedule is average for what UC needs which is 11-2 or better entering Big East.        

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: September 16, 2011 3:24 pm

I have to address Cinci's non-con schedule

After the past several seasons of mediocre basketball due to the poor handling of letting go Bob Huggins, it really hurt recruiting and it was a big blow to the fan base.  Cincinnati still is trying to rebuild and regain the trust of a damaged core of fans.  That being said, the big networks aren't coming after the Bearcats as a sexy name to put in some marquee matchups.  Just hasn't happened yet, but probably will in the next few seasons, but Cincinnati is on the rise and the worldwide leader and others will come calling to set up some better non-conference matchups for the Bearcats.  That's not a total excuse, but it does help explain quite a bit.

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