In his first four seasons as head coach at Cincinnati the sailing wasn’t exactly smooth for head coach Mick Cronin, whose teams were unable to reach either the 20-win plateau or the NCAA tournament.
Cronin’s Bearcats have reached the NCAA tournament in each of their last three seasons, winning at least 22 games in each of those campaigns. With that in mind the school has rewarded Cronin, extending his contract through the 2017-18 season.
“In an industry where coaching changes occur frequently, Mick brings a tremendous amount of stability to our program and loyalty to our institution and community. When Coach Cronin first arrived at UC, he had one scholarship student-athlete on the roster. Our basketball program has steadily progressed on an upward trajectory,” Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock said in a statement released by the school.
“Coming off a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, a fall semester with the team achieving its highest grade point average since 2007 and a strength of schedule ranked 27th nationally, I’m pleased with the accomplishments being made on the court and in the classroom.
“I look forward to working with Mick and our staff in achieving our championship aspirations for many years to come. Cincinnati men’s basketball is well positioned for the future.”
Cronin has led the Bearcats to 74 wins and a Sweet 16 appearance (2012) in the last three seasons. With Sean Kilpatrick announcing his intentions to return for his senior campaign and the addition of highly-touted power forward Jermaine Lawrence, the Bearcats are poised to make another trip to the NCAA tournament in 2014.
While no salary terms were disclosed in the school’s announcement, Cronin’s contract can be extended even further if Cincinnati returns to the NCAA tournament in 2014 and 2015.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
No. 25 Texas A&M made a statement on Turkey Day, as they knocked off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Danuel House led the way with 19 points for the Aggies while Tony Trocha-Morales finished with 14 points as Texas A&M picked up the win despite the fact that they did not score for the final eight minutes of the game.
Billy Kennedy’s club looked the part of an SEC contender, playing tough defense and keeping Gonzaga’s massive and talented front line in check. Perhaps most impressive was that they were able to hang on despite blowing a lead late in the second half, and that they did it with their defense. Gonzaga can score. They have big bodies inside and shooters to surround them, but Domantas Sabonis struggled with foul struggle throughout the game while Kyle Wiltjer did not score in the final 12 minutes.
Kentucky, at this point, is the clear-cut favorite in the SEC, and while Vanderbilt looked really good in Maui this week, A&M looks like they’re going to end up giving the Commodores a run for their money for second-best in the league.
On the other hand, this loss wasn’t a total disaster for the Zags. They had the final possession with a chance to be a good team on a day when Domantas Sabonis was rendered completely ineffective. And, more importantly, point guard Josh Perkins was terrific. He did have a late turnover, but he scored all 15 of his points in the second half as he helped keep the Zags within striking distance.
Texas A&M will play the winner of Syracuse and No. 18 UConn for the title.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.