By all accounts, Cincinnati coaches and people weren't happy that Sean Kilpatrick wasn't conference player of the year with UConn's Shabazz Napier getting the award.
Kilpatrick promised on Wednesday when the award was announced and he didn't win that it would be "20 times worse for a lot of people now."
That comment becomes a juicy subplot for tonight, because of course Cincinnati and UConn are playing in the American semifinal tonight in the second game in Memphis. The winner tonight will play the winner of Houston and Louisville in the first semifinal.
For Napier, who had found out he had won the award over the weekend, he had a comment about those griping over his selection via Dave Borges of the New Haven Register.
"He cares so much about that MVP. I don’t care about that," Napier said. "Those guys believe he won it? He can have it."
Well, that should set up an interesting game today against two former Big East foes that have had their share of contested games over the years including a second round NCAA game in 2011.
Kikpatrick and Napier are both worthy of Player of the Year and are strong candidates for first team All-American as the game will feature the top two scorers in the American. Kilpatrick is averaging 20.9 points a game and has carried Cincinnati to a 27-5 record.
Napier is second in the league in scoring at 17.6 points per game while also leading the team in rebounding per game (6.0) and assists per game (5.1). He is coming off an 11 point game against Memphis, with the Huskies not needing his heroics. The game should help the seed for the Huskies in the NCAA as it plays No. 13 Cincinnati and, with win, potentially a top 10 ranked Louisville team. UConn is 25-7, the 13th time in program history the school has had more than 25 wins.
Cincinnati and UConn split their meetings this year with both games closely played defensive slogs. The Huskies squandered a second half lead in a 63-58 loss to the Bearcats in January before wining 51-45 at home a couple of weeks ago.
The Huskies switched the lineup against Memphis inserting Niels Giffey and Phil Nolan into the lineup and dominated last night against Memphis. Giffey scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the 72-55 win over Memphis. Cincinnati held off UCF in the final minute to win 61-58.