Alex Frank | Sports Director
In 1920, the passing of the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
That same year was the last year the Cincinnati Bearcats and Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball teams played in the Queen City, a game won by Ohio State 35-13 at the Schmidlapp Center.
Fast forward nearly 99 years to today, Election Day of all days, and we are one day away from the Bearcats and the Buckeyes rekindling their rivalry at newly-renovated Fifth-Third Arena, a game that will get underway at 6 p.m. and be televised on ESPN2.
“I think it changes your focus,” head coach Mick Cronin said when asked about what it’s like opening up against a team like Ohio State. “When you play against a well-coached, high-major team, obviously in the opener it heightens your focus to eliminate mistakes early in your practice sessions. The things that you eventually have to get to beat quality opponents, you just got to try and get there a lot sooner.”
Looking to make a statement
Aside from looking to win their first regular-season game in their newly-renovated Fifth-Third Arena, the Bearcats are also looking to get a big-early season win against a quality, well-coached opponent from a power five conference.
“When you play a well-coached team, I think it makes you better because you learn a lot about your team,” Cronin said. “They’re going to find your weaknesses. It allows you to start a growth process, but obviously you’re trying to get a big win.”
Even though it is just the first game of the 2018-19 season, Cronin talked about how day one is a realistic point in the season to start setting a team’s identity.
“You have to be hard to beat,” Cronin said. “When the ball is loose, whether it’s on the floor or in the air, you compete for it like a championship team.
“So I think if you look around like in our sport, teams that have continued success whether it’s Villanova, Gonzaga, teams that are not in power five leagues or don’t have all the accolades of some other teams, lottery picks and some other teams that win every year, they fight for the ball and they’re not easily defeated. We’re playing a team and a coach that stands and plays for the exact same stuff.”
The most recent meeting between the two teams was in the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in Boston, a game won by the Buckeyes 81-66 despite trailing by four points midway through the second half.
Prior to that, the two teams met at the Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis during Cronin’s first season as the Bearcats head coach, a game also won by Ohio State 72-50.
Most Bearcats fans know, though, that Cincinnati defeated Ohio State in consecutive national championship games in 1961 and ’62.
The Bearcats, though, have lost the last two games against their in-state rivals from the Buckeye State, as they currently trail in the series history 6-4.
You live in Cincinnati
That famous phrase was emphasized by legendary Bengals head coach Sam Wyche in 1989, the same year that Fifth-Third Arena first opened its doors.
While the state of Ohio may be nicknamed the Buckeye State, Bearcats football head coach Luke Fickell calls the Queen City the State of Cincinnati, and it’s nicknamed the Bearcat State.
Player to watch Wednesday
I constantly said last year that senior guard Cane Broome was the spark for the team.
Whenever the Bearcats needed a bucket to lift them out of a slump, it always seemed like Broome would deliver it.
Broome was my highlight of the night for last Thursday’s exhibition game against Tusculum, and now I want to see him display the senior leadership and give the intensity in games Cronin talked about at Monday’s press conference.
“If he does that, his scoring will take care of itself,” Cronin said. “For him it’s an intensity factor of trying to be a dominant player at his best, exerting all his energy, all the time. If he does that, he’ll be fine with his scoring.”
Broome is the only player on this year’s roster who has played against Ohio State.
That game when he was at Sacred Heart on Nov. 23, 2014, a game he and the Pioneers lost by nearly 60 points, 106-48.
“I always remember that,” Broome said. “I started out the game good. I hit a three and a layup and then after that they just put the dogs on us. It was the worst loss I’ve ever had.”
Putting last year behind them
The fact that Broome thinks that game was his worst loss shows his leadership, and here’s why.
I’m still not over that game in Nashville last year. I think I’ll keep it as, “that game.”
How that team lost “that game” and didn’t at least get to the Sweet 16 is something I’ll always wonder.
But Broome made no mention of that game being his worst loss, only that game against Ohio State in 2014.
That’s a good thing because that game in Nashville was last year.
This is a new year with a new-look team, but as I said on my show here at Bearcast Media, Sports; “Any Way You Want It!” last year, enjoy the journey with this team.
That especially holds true tomorrow against Ohio State in a game that will be played in front of a sold-out crowd at newly-renovated Fifth-Third Arena.