Maui Invitational

Mick Cronin's Bearcats have one goal for March of 2010 and that's to play in the NCAA tournament. This week the Maui Invitational could be one of the biggest weeks for the Bearcats to attempt to achieve that goal.

Cincinnati will have the ability to try and make a statement against several quality teams, as the field is a combined 16-1 this season and all seven (other than host Chaminade) should be in contention for the tournament. The NCAA tournament selection committee, who will meet in March to pick the field of 65, takes in to account non-conference games against quality opponents.

The Bearcats will open Monday at 5:30 PM in Maui against Kevin Stallings' Vanderbilt Commodores (2-0) out of the SEC (southeastern conference), who are coming off a 19-12 season and have got off to a fast start this season with wins over Lipscomb and WCC power St. Mary's. Vanderbilt is returning all five starters, including junior Center AJ Ogilvy, who averaged 15.4 ppg a year ago and battled injuries most of the season. Also returning is senior point guard Jermaine Beal who led the Commodores in assists and was second in scoring a year ago.

In the Bearcats second game they will take on the Maryland Terrapins (3-0) or the host Chaminade Silverswords. Maryland was 21-14 last season out the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) and were beat by the Memphis Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago to end there season. The Terrapins will be led by senior guard Greivis Vasquez, who last season led Maryland in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and 3 pointers made. Vasquez decided to turn down the chance to play in the NBA, to return for his senior season.

Cincinnati, this week could also face the Arizona Wildcats (2-0), Colorado (3-0), Wisconsin (2-0) and the Gonzaga Bulldogs (2-1) who lost a close one to Michigan State earlier this week in East Lansing. All who have the ability to make a run at the 2010 NCAA Tournament, and test the Bearcats this week.

The Cincinnati Bearcats (2-0) will be tested by veteran teams in Maui and must respond by protect the ball, controlling your emotions and winning the rebounding battle. Yancy Gates and Steve Toyloy must step up Monday to slow down Ogilvy, who has the ability to play inside out and is an excellent passer. Lance Stephenson should be a mismatch problem for most of the Vanderbilt defenders also and must be aggressive and assert himself on the offensive end. Deonta Vaughn must be solid, lead the team and step up in big situations to give this team confidence out in Maui.

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