NCAA tournament team previews: Cincinnati Bearcats
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 27-6, 15-3 in American Athletic Conference
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 107.8 (112th) / 91.5 (9th)
Seed: No. 5 in East
Impact player: Sean Kilpatrick, senior guard. 20.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 120.4 offensive rating
The Case For:
No one will mistake Cincinnati for a great offensive team. The Bearcats rank outside the nation’s top 100 in offensive efficiency. But on the other end of the floor, few teams are better. Cincinnati has limited its opponents to an average of 0.91 points per possession, good for ninth in the country. Cincinnati can lock down its opponent on defense and dictate a slow tempo. The Bearcats average 63.1 possessions per game, which ranks 319th in the country. Sean Kilpatrick is Cincinnati’s offensive catalyst. It’s rare to see a player be so efficient offensively (120.4 offensive rating) while handling such a big workload (28.9 usage rate). Kilpatrick put-up an All-America-quality season, and he’s capable of carrying the Bearcats in the NCAAs.
The Case Against:
As well as Cincinnati defends, its limitations on the offensive end will make it tough for the Bearcats to advance. What will happen when they face an opponent with an elite on-ball defender that can marginalize Kilpatrick? Forward Justin Jackson is the only other player Cincinnati has who averages double-digit points, but he’s known more for his defense and rebounding. There’s an inherent danger to playing close, low-scoring games. Slowing the game down may help Cincinnati trip up elite offensive teams that like to play fast, but it also makes the Bearcats vulnerable to an early-round upset.
SI prediction: Lose in first round to Harvard View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts