March 17, 2012
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Senior Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There's no mystery behind Cincinnati's success this season. Just like there's no secret as to why Florida State has advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament where it will face the Bearcats Sunday at 9:40 p.m. ET live on TBS.
Much like the third-seeded and 10th-ranked Seminoles (25-9), sixth-seeded Cincinnati has found triumph during the 2011-12 season by using its balance, athleticism and defensive pressure to run past and run down its opponents.
"Similar to a lot of the teams in the ACC in terms of their talent, their quickness, their speed, their athleticism," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said, a day after his team defeated St. Bonaventure, 66-63, to create the matchup against the Bearcats (25-10). "They lead the Big East in 3-pointers made. They can hurt you from the perimeter.
"They're quick enough that they can attack off the dribble and they've got a go-to guy inside."
As the Big East Conference's runner up and a squad that defeated No. 1-seed Syracuse en route to its league championship-game appearance, the Bearcats may not be as deep as the 'Noles but they do get tremendous production out of the players that do compete.
While Florida State boasts three players that score in double figures (Michael Snaer, 14.1; Ian Miller, 10.8; Bernard James, 10.8), Cincinnati has four that score at that same clip and a fifth that averages just less than 10 points per contest.
Of those five Bearcats, four are guards so if FSU wants to advance to its second Sweet 16 in as many years, containing penetration from the permitter will be paramount.
"Pick your poison," Hamilton said. "They all are very good players. They all are talented and they are well coached."
Asked Saturday afternoon if Cincinnati reminds them of anyone they have played this season, several of FSU players drew comparisons to Miami.
Senior Luke Loucks even compared the Bearcats to the Duke team that the Seminoles played in the ACC Tournament -- the one that didn't featured an injured Ryan Kelly.
"Remember in the ACC Tournament Duke used four guards for a lot of that game because Kelly wasn't playing and I think one of the Plumlees got in foul trouble," Loucks said. "So, similar to that in the sense that they have four guards that can shoot and penetrate.
"They can hurt you if you're not matched up well against them."
With a win, Florida State would face Ohio State Thursday in Boston, Mass.