Mick Cronin and the Cincinnati Bearcats might not want to admit it, but Wednesday night's last-second, Lance Stephenson-free-throw-after-a-questionable-foul-call victory over Connecticut might have more to do with UConn's mediocrity than with Cincinnati's excellence.
Sorry, Cincinnati. It's not that you're not good. You are! You guys are pretty awesome, all things considered. But after Wednesday night's action, it's hard to shake the feeling that UConn not only isn't anywhere near as good as their 2008-09 juggernaut selves (we knew this before the season), but the Huskies are barely a top 25 team, if that (which we didn't).
Consider the following: It's now Dec. 31, and UConn doesn't have what Fox's Jeff Goodman calls a "résumé win"; Goodman thinks UConn might be a bubble team. He has a point. Against top 25 competition (i.e., Duke, Kentucky, and Cincy), UConn has veritably melted. Jim Calhoun and company's best win is, what, over Harvard?
What's worse, the tempo-free numbers don't exactly sing the Huskies' praises. Ken Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency numbers list Connecticut as the No. 41-ranked team in the country. The Huskies are not efficient on the offensive end, posting a 49.5 percent effective field goal percentage. And as John Gasaway argues today, UConn is losing its two main vintage UConn traits: free throws and defensive rebounding. Without those, UConn barely feels like UConn.
Yet that is the reality Huskies fans face. This UConn team still has sweet jerseys, and it still has Jim Calhoun glaring from the sidelines, but in terms of actual basketball product, this year's UConn team doesn't feel all that much like UConn.