Monday, March 11, 2002
Bearcats low-key about high seed
By Michael Perry email@example.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer
After Oklahoma knocked off top-ranked Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament final Sunday, the University of Cincinnati players had more than doubts. Some flat-out figured the Bearcats would lose an NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed to the Sooners.
Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins.
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We've been working hard all season and the summer, UC senior guard Steve Logan said. I think it's a reward now for that. We believed in one another, and we believed in our coaching staff ... and look at us now: We're No. 1, and we've got a chance to win the whole thing.
UC (30-3), unranked in the preseason, was selected as a top seed for the first time in school history. The Bearcats were assigned to the West Regional and will face 16th-seeded Boston University (22-9) Friday at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. Game times have not been released.
The No. 5-ranked Bearcats won the Conference USA regular-season and tournament championships and were No. 2 in the Ratings Percentage Index on Sunday. They defeated Mississippi State which won the Southeastern Conference Tournament by 34 points in December in Las Vegas.
Of their three losses, two came to teams in the NCAA field Oklahoma State, the No. 7 seed in the South; and Marquette, the fifth seed in the East.
It has been a businesslike team, which may explain the players' reactions Sunday when their No. 1 seed was announced in the first few minutes of CBS' telecast.
I think everybody else, like the coaches and the coaches' wives, were more excited than we were, junior center Donald Little said. I don't know why. I'm excited now. I'm ready to roll.
Said senior Jamaal Davis: We were just like, "OK, we've got practice tomorrow.' Being No. 1 in anything is always good. I don't think it was a real goal. Making it to the Final Four is our goal now.
Added junior Leonard Stokes: We're glad we have the No. 1 seed, but whether we had a 1 or a 2, we were going to come out and play as hard as we can, no matter what.
CBS analyst Clark Kellogg was more lively than the Bearcats, firing this off right after the announcement: I'm anxious to hear what the committee's rationale is. ... That may have already been decided prior to the end of that (Oklahoma-Kansas) game.
Lee Fowler, Division I Men's Basketball Committee chairman, said a 30-minute discussion took place about whether the Kansas-Oklahoma result would affect the No. 1 seedings.
We do look at the total season from start to finish, and we want to make sure one game doesn't influence too much, Fowler said.
This is UC's 21st NCAA Tournament appearance and 11th in a row. UC has been a No. 2 seed four times in the past nine years, but never a No. 1 under 13th-year coach Bob Huggins.
Cincinnati advanced to the Sweet 16 last season before losing to Stanford; that came after four consecutive second-round losses.
UC's last Final Four appearance was 10 years ago in Huggins' third season.
The Bearcats already had tape of Boston University, and Huggins was preparing to spend the night watching his first-round opponent, the American East Conference champion he admitted knowing little about.
A potential second-round game against UCLA or Mississippi looms. If seeding holds, UC then would play Ohio State and Oklahoma to reach the Final Four in Atlanta.
The only thing I look at is the first two rounds, Huggins said. The more you do this, you learn it's a two-game tournament and you've got to get ready for the other people in that particular bracket. And you've got time after that's over with -- hopefully you're still alive -- (to) look at the next bracket.
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