Cincinnati has scored 61 points in each of their last two road games. There is a feeling that this Bearcats team is playing down to their competition a bit. I think of some of this is the style of play that Cincinnati and Mick Cronin like. Mick has never been one to push the tempo. That was certainly the case against USF, a game that featured 63 possessions. 63 possessions isn't enough to get into a real shoot out or is it enough to pull away dramatically if the other team scores a little bit. Cincinnati is the slowest paced team in conference play at 64 possessions. That can be a good thing when they suffocate someone like Rutgers. It can be a frustrating thing when USF seems to hang around forever when you would think UC could put them away with some ease.
I have a feeling that outside of the Memphis game, nothing this team does the rest of the way is going to be easy. UC played their best half of the year when they blindsided the Tigers. The book looks to be out on the Cats. Play a lot of zone against them. Cincinnati could hit enough 3s to help out the offense, just like they did against USF, but their overall shooting is a sign of concern. Basketball, especially in conference play, is all about adapting. Mick Cronin said after the game that UC might play more zone. That's adapting. We'll see what other tricks he has up his sleeve to make the Bearcats continue on their best start since he's been their coach.
As mentioned, this is Cincinnati's best start under Mick Cronin. 17-2, 6-0 in the league is very impressive. There seems to be some sense nationally that UC isn't playing anyone I guess because no one is talking about the Bearcats. There is some fairness to that. Memphis, Connecticut and Louisville have played each other once. Cincinnati has only played Memphis. UC has a back loaded conference slate, which isn't their fault at all. I think part of the underapperciation is that Cincinnati plays defense like Ohio State and offense like Elon. If Cincinnati was scoring 80 points a game, I think that they would have been getting more national love. There is a defensive bias. UC is kind of like a better Clemson or Virginia. Their best wins are against an ACC team, they play great defense and it seems like not a lot of people think they can win their leagues. That's fine. Have to win them over on the floor.
It seems like UC is playing a non-conference version of the conference schedule. Rutgers, Temple and South Florida, along with Thursday's opponent UCF, are the 4 worst teams in the league by a large margin. UC plays 5 straight against them. Houston is alright. SMU is on the good to maybe tournament team line. UConn, Memphis and Louisville are the upper crust. The fun starts the 30th, when Cincinnati plays at Louisville, hosts UConn and goes to SMU in a span of 9 days. It's like we are going through the conference football slate until we get to the Rutgers game.no comments