Cincinnati Bearcats: NCAA Tournament Team Preview

Cincinnati Bearcats NCAA

Cincinnati Bearcats (5 Seed, East Bracket)

Record: 27-6 (15-3 in AAC)

Coach: Mick Cronin

Tournament Berth: At Large Bid

Big Wins: Louisville, Memphis, Connecticut, North Carolina State

Big Losses: New Mexico, Xavier, Connecticut, Southern Methodist

The Cincinnati Bearcats have had a very successful 2013-2014 season led by their star, Sean Kilpatrick. Defense has been key to Cincinnati winning games, and they rank sixth in the NCAA in points allowed, 23rd in blocks, and 21st in steals per game. One area where the Bearcats have struggled at times has been in getting rebounds, and facing a talented big man in the tournament may prove to be a difficult challenge.

After going 7-0 to start the season, the Bearcats lost two disappointing games, back-to-back, against New Mexico and Xavier. They then turned things around and went on a 15-game win streak, which was highlighted by wins over no. 18 Memphis, no. 12 Louisville, and no. 22 Connecticut. They only lost three more games after the streak, and the Cincinnati Bearcats finished with a very impressive 15-3 record in the AAC. During the season, Sean Kilpatrick became an under-the-radar star in which the senior guard led the team to be ranked no. 13 at season’s end.

Cincinnati lost to Connecticut 58-56 in the semi-finals of the AAC Tournament. The heartbreaking loss cost the Bearcats a shot at the AAC title, which would have propelled their seed rank upwards. But the AAC Tournament is no NCAA Tournament, and Cincinnati will have a clean slate as they try to earn their first NCAA Championship since 1962.

Top Players

POINTS

PPG

FG%

FT%

3PT%

Sean Kilpatrick

20.7

.422

.847

.345

Justin Jackson

11.1

.542

.458

.000

REBOUNDS

REB

OFF

DEF

BPG

Justin Jackson

7.2

3.2

4.0

2.9

Titus Rubles

6.7

2.5

4.3

0.8

ASSISTS

APG

SPG

TO

AST/TO

Sean Kilpatrick

2.6

1.4

2.0

1.3

Troy Caupain

2.3

0.9

1.3

1.8

Starting Five

F – Justin Jackson

F – Shaquille Thomas

F – Titus Rubles

G – Ge’Lawn Guyn

G – Sean Kilpatrick

Who’s Hot: Sean Kilpatrick has undoubtedly been the team MVP for the Bearcats. His impressive 20.7 points per game place him in an elite category of scorers in the NCAA. The senior has come up big in many important games, which include a 34 point performance against Memphis and a 28 point performance against Louisville. The success of the Cincinnati Bearcats will largely lie on how Kilpatrick performs, because he is the team’s heart and soul.

Who’s Not: Ge’Lawn Guyn has had some impressive moments on the court this year, but he has struggled during the second part of the season. On a crucial game where Cincinnati lost to Louisville 58-57, Guyn had a disappointing four turnovers to go along with three points for the game. As a starter, Guyn has to become a more consistent player if he is to help the Bearcats go far in the tournament.

Outlook: The Cincinnati Bearcats have a decent shot at making it far into the NCAA Tournament. Justin Jackson is an underrated forward, who as a 6-8 senior, has impressed throughout the season with his imposing defense and consistent offensive skills. Sean Kilpatrick will need to be at the top of his game, and the defense will need to be clicking on all cylinders in order for the Bearcats to have a shot at the title. But this talented team may surprise many people once the tournament begins.

By Glen Parris

Sources:
ESPN
Fox Sports

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