No reason to try and mask it: I'm rooting for Cincinnati.
A little bit because Pitt has been to six of the last seven Big East championship games, a little bit because Pitt has knocked us out of the tourney the last two years, a little bit because Pitt has been awesome in Madison Square Garden recently (including a one-point win over Duke in December), and a lot because I think Pitt is much, much better than Cincinnati.
Time to find out who it's going to be.
7:03- Thought it was a typo, but Jamual Warren actually spells his name J-A-M-U-A-L-. Colorful.
7:05- Keith Benjamin buries a three, and Cincinnati turns it over. So it begins.
7:06- John Williamson fouled while making a three. I'm counting on a four-point play in the Big East Tournament statistic from ESPN.
7:07- Williamson gets called when it looked like he walked but he really didn't, and Benjamin doesn't get called when he actually walked but it looked like he didn't. Pitt with an early 8-4 lead.
7:09- Mick is wearing a very Mamba-friendly tie. He also looks like Toby from The Office.
7:11- Deonta Vaughn - who probably has to score at least 25 for Cincy to have a shot - scores and is fouled. He'll have a chance to complete the three-point play after the under 16. Pitt 11-6.
7:15- It's 13-7 Pitt, and I'm going on a brief, Arby's-related hiatus.
7:38- And we're back...and wishing both teams playing would have saved this performance for tomorrow night.
7:42- Heyyo, Deonta Vaughn from behind the second line makes it a two-point game.
7:43- LeVance Fields screams at Young to set a screen, and when he abides, Fields takes three steps without dribbling. Panthers up 26-20 at the under four.
7:48- Great steal and pass for a lay-up by Vaughn not get back within four. Just keep hanging around guys.
7:49- I've got nothing against Schulman or Elmore, but I miss the afternoon crew. Everything's brighter when Sean McDonough is around.
7:52- Cincinnati's players yell at the refs a lot. They're a lot like the mid-'90s Bearcats, except half as good.
7:53- Sam Young with a big trey to end the half, and it's Pitt 31-25 after 20 minutes.
7:55- Mini-halftime stats:
Pittsburgh (31): Young 14, Benjamin 7, Biggs 4, Ramon 3, Fields 2, Blair 1
Cincinnati (25): Vaughn 7, Bishop 6, Warren 5, Sikes 4, Williamson 2, Hrycaniuk 1
8:12- A couple of nice mid-range jumpers start the half for Cincinnati, but the Bearcats have to find an answer for Sam Young on the defensive end.
8:13- Being left-handed is such an advantage in basketball, simply because it seems to take people 35 minute to realize that you're left-handed. Why people don't hang over John Williamson's right shoulder when he catches the ball in the post, I'll never know.
8:15- Cincy gets a stop, but then gets out-hustled for a rebound, and fouls Young as he makes a lay-up. 41-34 Pitt with a freebie coming after the under 16.
8:18- Cute shot of Dominic James and the girl he's cheating on.
8:19- Hey Rick.
8:20- We have officially entered the danger zone for the Bearctas. Pitt up 44-34 with a little under 15 to play.
8:25- Cincinnati is blocking out less than we did against Pitt. Panthers up 46-35 with 74 second-chance points (it's been impressive).
8:27- Second note to Louisville players not reading this: you still don't get an extra point for shooting behind the second line. Go ahead and scoot up. Please.
8:32- Hangin' around, hangin' around. Pitt by six, 48-42.
8:35- Deonta Vaughn is a really good player. Not only does he have an extreme amount of natural offensive skill, but he makes good decisions with the ball, and knows when to double and when not to double on defense.
8:36- Cincy misses their sixth or seventh lay-up of the game. We saw how that worked out for Providence.
8:39- Rrrrronald Rrrrramon knocks down back-to-back treys and it's Pitt by nine. We're going to have to beat these guys.
8:40- Deonta Vaughn answers each three, and UC continues to hang around...and let Pitt cram one-handed alley-oops.
8:41- Three in a row for Vaughn, which would be acceptable if UC had three or four other guys who could hit the outside shot, but they don't, they have one.
Pitt 56, Cincinnati 51
8:45- Oh my goodness. Deonta Vaughn, people. He's hit four straight and every one of them has been a step further back than the one before it.
8:46- If Pitt wins this - and they will - let's bring our boxing out shoes tomorrow night.
8:47- It's gotten to the point where I can't remember a basket Pitt scored that wasn't off of an offensive rebound.
8:49- Vaughn's got 24 and he's single-handedly keeping UC somewhat in this...but they're playing zero defense. Another three for Ramon makes it 64-56 with 4:31 to go.
8:51- Couldn't think of another way to fit this in, but if you haven't seen it already, Edgar Sosa was the focus of a NYT piece this morning.
The quote about still being upset over not starting sort of worries me.
8:54- Sam Young has 21? Damn. I knew he was having a solid night, but didn't realize it was that solid.
8:58- Cincinnati is not being smart with the basketball. It's so obvious who I'm cheering for.
9:00- I wish Deonta Vaughn played for my team.
9:01- And Vaughn is the first person to have his swearing caught by the microphones so far in the tournament. An extremely audible "fuck me" after being hit with a foul.
9:02- And all of the sudden...it's a four-point game with a minute to play.
9:03- Yikes. Getting the ball wedged in the support in the last minute is a momentum killer.
9:04- Vaughn hits a pair from the stripe, and it's a one possession game with 41.3 seconds left. I'm refusing to lift my hopes even slightly.
9:05- Fields heading back to the line where he just made one-of-two. Pitt leads 67-64 with 40 seconds to play.
9:07- Vaughn wastes 13 seconds dribbling the air out of the ball before Cronin calls timeout. 68-64 Pitt with 27 seconds left.
9:08- Young blocks a wild shot by Vaughn, and this one is just about over. Panther ball with 17.3 to go.
9:12- Pittsburgh 70, Cincinnati 64
It's the Cards and the Panthers tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
The bigs had better show up.