LINCOLN, NE - JANUARY 18: Nebraska Cornhuskers' head coach Doc Sadler and Bo Spencer #23 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers wait to be interviewed after defeating the Indiana Hoosiers 70-69 at The Devany Center January 18, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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The second best team in the Big East is......Cincinnati? Believe it. Though it's still relatively early in league play, last night's road victory over the defending champs was more than just a statement game for Mick Cronin's team. It was a collective eye-opener.
Considering everything that has happened to this program over the last few months, seeing the Bearcats sitting alone in second place, even at just 5-1, is pretty remarkable. The one win that appears to have kickstarted things in the right direction was a three-point road victory over Pittsburgh to open up the Big East slate on January 1. Since then, the Bearcats have taken down Notre Dame and Villanova at home, and conference frontrunners Georgetown and UConn on the road. And aside from a couple of unsavory losses, Cincinnati's resume is starting to look like that of a legit tournament team.
We know that a slip-up or two could knock the Bearcats down the conference standings in the blink of an eye, so we're quite interested to see how these guys look over the next month. Because, for now anyway, this team absolutely deserves the distinction of being No. 2 in the league. And Cronin, well, he might just be making a play for Coach of the Year at this rate.
* Central Florida made history with its first ever win over Memphis (Orlando Sentinel)
* Reginald Buckner on beating MSU: "It was a statement game. We're back in it. We're back in the race." (Clarion-Ledger)
* Panic time? Rick Barnes' Longhorns fell to 1-4 on the road and 2-3 in the Big 12 (Burnt Orange Nation)
Cincinnati - Not many schools are able to walk into Storrs and leave with a smile on their face. Yet somehow, Cronin's squad managed to pull this off on Wednesday. It took a Sean Kilpatrick dagger three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to seal the deal of course, but we saw another extremely well-played game by this red hot Cincy bunch. With their confidence level higher than ever, and the toughest road games on their schedule already taken care of, it sure looks like the Bearcats are finally here to stay.
Indiana - In order to be taken seriously as a Big Ten contender, Indiana needed to show us they could plow through some of the league's weaker teams like a powerhouse should. But after a 3-1 start, the Hoosiers have hit the skids in a big way. Last night's unexpected loss to Nebraska was Indiana's third consecutive defeat, making it increasingly more difficult to pinpoint exactly what we're going to see from this team on a given night. Those resume-boosting wins over Ohio State and Kentucky aren't going anywhere, sure,but there was a time when it looked like Indiana wouldn't even need to rely on them. If this keeps up, that might not be the case.
Not only did the junior guard go nuts on Wednesday for a career-high 39 points, he also moved his scoring average up to 20.2 per game for the season. Ryan hit 8-of-14 three-pointers in Evansville's comfortable win over Bradley and is a 43.4% shooter from behind the arc this year. Most casual fans likely have never heard of this kid, but for a top 15 scorer in the country, after a night like this, maybe it's time for people to broaden their horizons.
101 - Points scored by the Runnin' Rebels on Wednesday, their second highest output of the year under head coach Dave Rice. The Rebels assisted on 28 of their 37 field goals en route to a 101-78 win over TCU.