Tuesday, February 16, 1999
49ers feel UC win tarnished
BY MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Fans of UNC Charlotte are worried that the national perception of their team's win against the Cincinnati Bearcats last month may detract from the 49ers' chances to be invited to the NCAA Tournament.
They shouldn't. The 49ers hurt themselves enough last week to make the issue moot.
UNCC (15-8, 7-4) lost to both Louisville and Marquette last week and now needs to complete the season sweep of the Bearcats Wednesday at the Shoemaker Center if it wants to be taken seriously by the NCAA selection committee.
The 49ers won the first meeting 62-60 but Conference USA apologized for an error that resulted when official Tom O'Neill lost track of the game situation and blew a whistle after a missed one-and-one free throw he thought was a two-shot circumstance.
UC continued after the whistle and got an unguarded three-point shot from guard Melvin Levett, but that was wiped out and the Bearcats were not able to score when the ball was live.
I do know the whistle blew immediately, as the ball was rebounded, and now the national media has made it sound as if the whistle blew on his way up to shoot, said UNCC coach Bobby Lutz.
Obviously, I wish it wouldn't have gone down the way it went down. I do know we led the whole way, and our players deserve more credit for that.
BIDDING WAR: Although it is riding a three-game losing streak, UC is still the only C-USA team certain it will conclude the season in the NCAA Tournament.
There are four others that still have a shot to wind up in the field with at-large bids. There may yet be room for as many as three of these teams, although most likely just two:
Louisville (14-7). Games left: Houston, at Tulane, at UC, UAB, at Southern Mississippi: The Cardinals have perhaps the softest schedule of any CUSA contender.
UAB (17-8). Games left: South Florida, at Southern Miss, at Louisville, Saint Louis: The Blazers are 2-6 against the RPI top 100 and didn't make it last year with 20 wins for similar reasons.
DePaul (14-9). Games left: at Southern Miss, at Saint Louis, Duke, at UNC Charlotte. Coach Pat Kennedy wants everyone to remember the Demons lost four of five after senior guard Willie Coleman was hurt in December.
UNC Charlotte (15-8). Games left: at UC, South Florida, at Houston, DePaul. To save themselves, they need to upset the Bearcats on Wednesday.
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