It’s December 26th and oh, ain’t it great?
Our very own Bearcats are ranked #8!
Yes, my fellow Cincinnati sports fans, UC is inside the top 10 and they’ve looked pretty impressive getting there. They’ve won by an average score of 22 points (I did the math myself), and they’re doing it as a team. Junior swingman Sean Kilpatrick is thirtieth in the nation in scoring per game at 19.16 points, but no other Bearcat is in the top fifty in any impact statistic.
Of course the time for celebration is at least two months off. The road gets much tougher from here with games against ranked opponents Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse in the next month. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, of those three, only the game against Notre Dame is at home.
Can the Bearcats run the table and complete the unbeaten season? Probably not. Syracuse is tough and games against Georgetown and Louisville lie ahead. And don’t forget about Connecticut. They may not be ranked but they are 9-2 and they always play UC hard.
Of course, even if they do lose a couple games, UC will still be poised for a run this spring. Unless the bottom falls out completely, it is hard to imagine UC being any lower than a 6th seed. And while a strong player can often carry a weaker team far into the madness, the teams that win championships are the ones that play as a complete unit. While Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may have been the brightest stars for UK last year, it was Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague who led the Wildcats in scoring against Kansas in the finals.
For UC to make a strong run at the Final Four, a couple things need to happen. First, and most important, Cashmere Wright needs to add a few points to his average. While he is incredibly consistent, scoring between 12 and 15 points pretty much every game, this total should be more in the 15 to 18 range if UC really wants to have the potent one-two punch that the strongest teams have. Second, Cheikh Mbodj needs to stretch to his full 6’ 10’’ potential and start leading the team in rebounds. There is no reason that Sean Kilpatrick should be outrebounding the big man.
If these two points come to pass and UC continues playing as a team, there is no reason the Bearcats can’t write their own ticket to the Sweet 16.
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