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Old 02-23-2006, 12:27 PM
TomWilkinson TomWilkinson is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 118
Default Cincinnati Looking at Getting into the Tourney

A month ago it was looking like the Cincinnati Bearcats were officially done when senior forward Armein Kirkland tore a knee ligament. That is definitely no longer the case.

Cincinnati has won three of their last four, are 18-9 and 7-6 in the Big East and looking like a tournament team. A victory tonight over No. 2 Villanova would give Cincinnati a huge win and probably secure an NCAA tournament spot. The Bearcats are 26th in the RPI and they play in a very strong Big East conference that has eight teams in the RPIís top 32.

Head coach Andy Kennedy has done a fabulous job with the Bearcats this season, far better than most people hoped, and better than his predecessor, Bob Huggins. "I think the only reason we're even a bubble (team) is because of Armein," he said. "I think they're viewing us as two different teams. There's teams you look at as on the bubble that we're 40 spots ahead of in the RPI, in the strongest league in the country, with more quality wins in and out of league.

"The only reason they're even talking this is because of the Armein factor, which isn't going to go away. So we've got to continue winning games."

Leading scorer James White is playing better and freshman point guard Devan Downey has 32 points in the last two games.

"It's nice to see James is back in the last two games, at least statistically," Kennedy said. "Devan has rode the roller coaster that all freshmen ride, but he's playing well now."

Villanova will be the highest-ranked opponent to play at the Bearcats' arena during its 17 seasons. "To me, we've got everything to gain and nothing to lose," Downey said. "Nobody thinks we're going to win. I'm going to be pumped up, but it's not like I'm going to be all nervous because nobody expects us to win."

"Unlike previous years where you could really get geared up for one game, you can't do that in this league," Kennedy said. "Everybody's good. Everybody's capable. This league does not afford us the opportunity to win one for the Gipper. "It's a great opportunity for us, and we know we still have work to do to meet our ultimate goal."
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