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Should we start talking about Cincy to come out of the East?


Mike Miller

The discussion involving the East Region centers around Fab Melo and what his ineligibility means for No. 1 seed Syracuse.

And for that matter, what his ineligibility means for the rest of the region. Does this open up the door for Vanderbilt to make a run to the Final Four? Can Ohio State overcome their issues with Jared Sullinger’s supporting cast to beat Florida State and make it to New Orleans? Can Florida State build on their run to the ACC title?

You know who everyone is ignoring? Cincinnati. The Bearcats got 15 points from Yancy Gates to lead five scorers in double figures as the Bearcats beat Texas 65-59, holding off a late-rally.

This is a sneaky good Cincinnati team. They finished fourth in the Big East this season and lost in the Big East tournament finals after handing Syracuse their second loss of the regular season. So why are they a six seed? Because the played terribly in the games leading up to the brawl with Xavier. They lost to Marshall and Presbyterian. They looked down right bad against an ugly non-conference schedule.

But this has become a different team since the brawl.

I like to call them Missouri-Lite. They spread the floor. They use four guards. They like to get out and apply defensive pressure. They have one of the more underrated point guards in the country in Cashmere Wright, a certified killer on the wing in Sean Kilpatrick, a hoss on the block in Yancy Gates and enough quality role players that Cincinnati can survive even when their best players struggle.

The key for the Bearcats is playing inside-out. When they are giving Gates touches and allowing him to make things happen, they become a much more dangerous team from the perimeter. The x-factor is JaQuan Parker, who plays the same role for Cincinnati that Kim English plays for Missouri. He’s a guard and a capable scorer on the perimeter, but he’s strong enough that he can hod his own in the paint. It creates a mismatch in Cincinnati’s favor, one that they continue to exploit.

The Bearcats are flying under the radar right now, but this is a team capable of making a run through the East Region.