I'm not sure what was worse, this weekend's 1-3 mark or having to shovel snow for the first time in more than a decade.
Actually, I am very sure. The shoveling didn't cost me money.
The NFL games, on what's usually the best weekend in football, were a dud. The college hoops, as it always does, saved the weekend.
*I'll start with the Musketeers, which will probably surprise you, forgetting that I am, of course, full of surprises. For a second straight game, Xavier looked dead in the water at home, playing once again without Quentin Goodin. Only this time, instead of facing an early deficit, XU trailed by ten with four minutes to go against a Butler team that seemed very, very much in control.
The Bulldogs were complicit in their demise, seemingly forgetting where Paul Scruggs was on numerous occasions, and looking panicked as the Musketeers chipped away at the lead.
Scruggs was fantastic, and his team as a whole was effective on the offensive glass, as well at getting to the free throw line, both of which enabled XU to overcome its own poor shooting.
It's hard to take two straight home victories and make much of them beyond thinking that the most dire projections after the loss to Marquette had Xavier topping out at maybe six Big East wins. After badly-needed come-from-behind victories, the Muskies are halfway to that total. A road game against Villanova beckons, a return match against Marquette looms after a home tilt against Providence. XU doesn't look like an NCAA Tournament team, either on paper or on the court, but they are in a position where maybe some upsets in the coming weeks could mean something.
Some real strong analysis there, huh?
*I have never seen or heard Mick Cronin as upset after a win as he was following UC's OT win over UConn on Saturday, a game that exhausted my nervous system, even if it was wildly entertaining.
With that loss last week against ECU still hovering over their season, home wins against inferior opponents are mandatory, and credit the Bearcats for doing what was needed to stave off disaster.
Still though, I can't blame Mick for not being enamored with his team. They're terrible at defending the three (I'd go straight man-to-man), and Mick's gripes with his team's lack of toughness on the glass were understandable. It would also be great if this team could make a free throw.
More than anything, though, I want to express my newfound love for UConn Head Coach Danny Hurley. I've been in attendance to watch him coach before, once for Rhode Island against UC in a game in Hartford, and another while coaching the Rams against UD in Dayton, and he's always struck me as fiery and intense, but he took it to another level on Saturday, providing the perfect sideshow for an otherwise fantastic game.
He literally complained about every call or non-call that didn't go his team's way. At one point, he told Cronin to "mind your own business" when the UC coach was giving one of the officials an earful. He yelled at people at the scorer's table, he cajoled his players, and he demonstratively waved his arms and flashed these wide-eyed exasperated looks of shock whenever anything bad happened to his team.
I loved it. This is my favorite coach in college basketball, and as annoying as this kind of guy might be when he's coaching against your team, he's a character and sports needs characters.
(Also, fellow UC fans, let's not pretend that our guy isn't just a notch below Hurley on the animated coach scale).
This man is willing to be a character. A loud, abrasive, and mostly entertaining one. Dan Hurley is now my sixth favorite college basketball coach (bonus points if you can name the top five, in order) and I'm already excited about his team coming back to Cincinnati next year.
Also, I wouldn't be saying any of this had UC lost.
*Chris Mack kinda knows what he's doing, huh?
*Nothing you saw this weekend is as cool as this...
*I don't have any real big takeaway from this weekend's NFL tilts, other than that these are likely the two most intriguing conference title matchups we could have asked for. I loved Sean Payton's fake punt down by 14, I loved Sean McVay's offense going old-school, and I loved Pat Mahomes looking every bit the mature, polished QB in his first playoff game that we think he is. I hated New Orlean's missed field goal that would've put them up nine, and the Chargers no-showing against the Pats.
That's all I've got. Not the most earth-shattering stuff, but hey, this content is free.
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