Matchup: No. 3 seed Connecticut (33-9) squares off against No. 6 seed Cincinnati (28-9) in the Round of 32 of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Date/Time: Saturday, March 19, 2011 - 9:40 p.m. EDT.
Broadcast Information: Saturday night's game between the Huskies and the Bearcats will be broadcast on TBS, with Tim Brando, Mike Gminski and Lewis Johnson serving as the broadcast team.
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C. (20,600 capacity). The current home of the NBA's Washington Wizards, NHL's Washington Capitals and the Georgetown Hoyas.
Series History: Connecticut leads the all-time series 6-2 against Cincinnati. The most recent meeting between the two teams was less than three weeks ago when UConn topped Cincy, 67-59.
Odds: The opening line lists Connecticut as a 2.5-point favorite, but 5Dimes.com has the Huskies as a 3.5-point favorite while Bodog.com lists UConn as a 4.5-point favorite.
Connecticut In The NCAA Tournament: The Huskies have been to the NCAA Tournament a total of 30 times and boast an all-time record of 47-28 in the Big Dance. UConn owns two NCAA Tournament championship titles, winning once in 1999 and again in 2004. The Huskies have been to the Final Four three times, most recently in 2009.
Cincinnati In The NCAA Tournament: The Bearcats own a record of 41-23 in the NCAA Tournament. Cincinnati has won two national championships in 1961 and 1962 and has appeared in the Final Four a total of six times. The Bearcats have made 25 appearances in the Big Dance.
Road To The Big Dance: Connecticut had a roller-coaster season, opening the year with 10 straight wins before losing to Big East foe Pittsburgh, 78-63, on Dec. 27. The Huskies proceeded to win seven of their next eight games before falling to Louisville, 79-78, in double overtime on Jan. 29. UConn fell into a rut after that, dropping six of its next ten games against Big East opponents. Down but not out, the Huskies pulled off a miracle run in the 2011 Big East Tournament, rattling off an unprecedented five wins in five days to win the conference title and claim the Big East's auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Cincinnati burst out of the starting gate, winning 15 games in a row and 16 of its first 17 games. The Bearcats proceeded to drop five of their next eight, but closed out the season by winning five of their final six games. In the 2011 Big East Tournament, the Bearcats defeated USF, 87-61, in the second round but were ousted by No. 4 Notre Dame, 89-51, in the third round. Nevertheless, Cincinnati received an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Last Game (via Sports Network):
On Thursday the Huskies, the third seed in the West Region, continued their improbable run of success with their sixth straight win in a span of nine days with an 81-52 thrashing of Bucknell in the second round of the tourney. The victory was the 850th in the career of legendary head coach Jim Calhoun and also moved the program to 47-28 in the tournament overall.
As for the sixth-seeded Bearcats, they took care of Missouri two days ago with a 78-63 triumph, giving the program a mark of 41-23 all-time in the event. Like UConn, which won the national championship in both 1999 and 2004, Cincinnati has trophies stemming from the years of 1961 and 1962, a time when the team made it to the Final Four in five straight seasons.
Breaking Down Cincinnati (via Sports Network):
The offense started out very slow for Cincinnati on Thursday as the team fell behind by a 9-2 score three minutes in, but from there Missouri couldn't keep up and the Bearcats built their 11-point halftime lead into a 15-point victory in the nation's capital. Yancy Gates led four UC players in double figures as he registered a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Dion Dixon contributed 16 points and six boards of his own. Cashmere Wright tallied 11 points and half of the unit's 14 assists, while Sean Kilpatrick pitched in 10 points off the bench for a team that shot 53.7 percent from the floor. Gates leads the group in both scoring and rebounding through 34 games with averages of 11.9 points and seven rebounds per outing, but in terms of scoring Dixon is hot on his heels with 11.8 ppg. The balanced scoring attack generates a solid 69.2 ppg, but it is the defense that does most of the hard work for the Bearcats by limiting foes to 59.3 ppg on 41.0 percent shooting from the floor.
Breaking Down Connecticut (via Sports Network):
Kemba Walker handed out a career-high 12 assists and recorded another double- double on the season on Thursday thanks to his 18 points in the 29-point victory over the Bison. Walker, who had a hand in more than half of the team's 32 made field goals, set a UConn NCAA Tournament record with his 12 dishes which goes to show that he is much more than just a scoring threat every time he brings the ball down the floor. Walker also added eight rebounds, which was second only to Alex Oriakhi who tallied nine points and a team-best 12 boards in the triumph. Roscoe Smith accounted for 17 points and seven rebounds and Jeremy Lamb 16 points in the win as well, as the team turned the ball over just six times and held a huge 49-23 advantage on the glass. The Huskies have been a dominant group on the glass this season, coming in with close to 40 rpg right now and that's a huge plus for a team that is shooting just 33.3 percent from three-point range. Walker, who is 34.0 percent accurate out on the perimeter, is one of the top scorers in the nation with 23.4 ppg, but he is also a key figure in the passing game with 162 assists through 36 starts.
National Rankings: Connecticut, which is ranked No. 9/No. 19 in the AP Top 25 and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls, is 63rd in the country in scoring (73.4 PPG). In addition, the Huskies ranked 11th in rebounding (39.6 RPG), 187th in field goal percentage (43.3%) and 157th in assists (13.1 APG) in the regular season.
Cincinnati is not ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll or the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Bearcats were ranked 164th in the regular season in scoring (69 PPG), 178th in field goal percentage (43.6%), 79th in assists (14.3 APG) and 133rd in rebounding (35.6 RPG).
Looking Ahead: The winner of Saturday night's game will face the winner of San Diego State and Temple in the Sweet 16.
Predicted Outcome (via Sports Network): Connecticut 68, Cincinnati 62