In less than 2 hours the greatest sports extravganza starts. 48 games in 48 hours. It’s a wirlwind of a weekend and one the Cincinnati Bearcats have been preparing for since the beginning of the season. The Bearcats powered through the American finishing as regular season champs and tournament champs. Now they sit the 6th ranked team in nation, 30-4, and a 2 seed in the South region of the bracket.
The Bearcats haven’t won this much hardware in 16 years and are well overdue for a run.
I like the match ups the Bearcats face this year. I don’t love them, but we’re sitting pretty.
Let’s break down the potentials for the game Friday and the potential ones on Sunday!
Round of 64
Georgia State or as their coach Ron Hunter refers to them as, The Little Step Sisters of the Poor. The Panthers are 24-10 andwon the Sun Belt Conference Tournament to get the auto bid and now face an up hill task against the Bearcats. The Panthers like to play zone and shoot the 3. The Bearcats have seen this before and while they’ve struggled to defend the 3 at times this year I just don’t see a first round upset playing out in this one. Not with this roster and the grit of the Bearcats.
Season Highlights for Georgia State include wins over Tulane, and UMass.
Players to watch: 6’3″ Sophmore and #15 D’Marcus Simonds averages about 21, 6, and 5 a game. That’s pretty impressive at any level. Look for the Bearcats to find him early and lockdown. The Panthers also have 6’5″ Junior Jeff Thomas, maybe related to Dave Thomas of Wendy’s? #30 averages 11, 4, and 2. The 6’5″ Junior Malik Benlevi #2 averages 10,7,and 2 as well.
The Keys are simple in this one – D up Simonds and limit him to 12 points or less – Control the pace of the game – hit open shots – crush them on the glass.
Prediciton: Bearcats 72 Panthers 57
Round of 32
On Sunday the Bearcats will either face 7/10 winner, Nevada or Texas. Twitter’s butt puckered when they say this potential match up with Nevada on Sunday. I’m not sure why though. First they have to take down Mo Bamba and Texas, which I think they will. Nevada has a good record, they won the Mountain West regular season and tournament. They’re 27-7 but play in a conference with Utah State, Colorado State, and Air Force. They are well coached and can shoot the ball but lack depth. Something the Bearcats have plenty of this time around.
The Wolf Pack has 4 players that average double figures and are lead by Jr. Caleb Martin who averages 19, 5, and 3.
Jr. Jordan Caroline is solid as well he averages 18, 9, and 2.
Throwing bodies at these two will be key.
Prediction: Bearcats 69 Wolf Pack 59
If Texas does beat Nevada which is entirely possible, they do play in a tougher conference and it’s March, the Bearcats will face a team that finished 6th in the Big 12 and lost to Texas Tech in the Big 12 tournament.
The Longhorns have 4 players averaging double figures as well. They’re led by Osetkowski with 14 ppg, Jones 14 , Bamba 13, and Roach II with 12. The Longhorns can rebound and have good size. Seeing them Sunday would mean our interior D would have to be on point and we’d probably see more minutes for Brooks.
If you missed Coach Hunter’s breakdown of the match up with the Bearcats here it is and it’s an all timer.
— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) March 12, 2018
ESPN gives the Bearcats about a 10% (the 5th highest percentage) chance to win the whole damn thing. It starts this weekend. LET’S GO BEARCATS!