Cincinnati has quietly had one of the best records in college basketball all year, with very few bad losses and three wins against ranked opponents. They have been a very consistent team, and will be making their seventh straight tournament appearance. The Bearcats haven’t won it all in over 50 years. Is 2017 the year to break the drought?
Interior defense has been one of Cincinnati’s strong points all season long. The Bearcats rank 16th in blocks per game, and 3rd in the nation for opponents two-point percentage. Lead by big man Kyle Washington and small forward Gary Clark, who both average a couple of blocks per game, Cincinnati doesn’t allow anything easy inside.
Cincinnati is also a team that simply moves the ball well. Swinging side to side, getting to the post, and finding teammates for easy scores, the Bearcats are 14th in the nation in assists per game. At home this season, they averaged over twenty assists per game, behind only UCLA and William and Mary. Prepare to be picked apart if your team is up against Cincy in March.
Free throw shooting has been a struggle for the Bearcats all season long. The team ranks just 288th in free throw percentage on the season. Even in their big wins on the season they have shot poorly from the charity stripe. In their win against Xavier they shot 49% from the line, in the overtime win against Iowa State just 46%, in their win against SMU just 57%. This could make for a tough loss if a close game goes to free throw shooting down the stretch.
Outside shooting is also a struggle at times for Cincy. For a team lead in scoring by a post player, having a couple of treats from outside that will spread the floor can cripple a defense. This is a luxury that the Bearcats do not have. They shoot just 35% from three point land, ranking 156th in the country. If their post game is taken away (as it was in their loss @ Butler) Cincinnati is going to have a tough time scoring.
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