Pick – Analysis
Kentucky didn’t play its best last Game and it still won by 23 points against Hampton. With competition getting harder each Game, expect the Wildcats to put more into this one. Cincinnati is a rough, physical team, but due to weaker offense, will need a miracle to win this Game.
It doesn’t help that the Bearcats just got done playing an overtime Game against another physical team, Purdue. Cincinnati was on the edge of defeat numerous times in that Game, but when it mattered most, Troy Caupain made a buzzer-beating shot to take the Game into overtime where they won by a point. This team has size and can play physical, but Kentucky is another class.
The Bearcats were outrebounded by Purdue in their OT win and Kentucky is even bigger. In addition to being bigger, the Wildcats are more skilled than what the Boilermakers brought to the table. They’ll have to deal with the force of Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns down low, plus Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee off the bench. Trey Lyles will prove to be a handful as well.
In the backcOurt, Troy Caupain and Farad Cobb will need to do more than usual because it’s unlikely CIncy will be able to get much going down low. Freshman Gary Clark was probably their best offensive big man in the opening round and Octavius Ellis can’t lose his head again after getting ejected. But they’ll need to hit some shots in this Game, something they don’t really do. Caupain has a good percentage (43%), but has only attempted 72 threes all season. Cobb and Kevin Johnson are less than average from deep.
Another issue is that Kentucky has a big and skilled backcOurt. Going against the size of the Harrison twins and what Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis bring off the bench is going to be tough. The Wildcats have everything on their team and if their guards are hitting shots, it’s going to be a long day because the Bearcats won’t be able to keep up on the scoreboard.
Cincinnati plays a slow Game and no one on the team averaged double-digits throughout the season. They don’t Scorea whole lot because they base everything off being physical and eating up the shot-clock. Going against one of the best defenses in the nation could easily limit Cincinnati to around the 50-point mark. So if they want to cover, they’ll need to hold their ground in the paint, but also limit open looks from Kentucky’s shooters. Easier said than done.
Kentucky has seen big teams like this throughout the season so it won’t be anything new. This could be a similar result to what we saw in their Game vs. Texas back in December in a 63-51 win. The Wildcats really struggled on the offensive end in that Game yet still won by 12. The difference in this Game is that Kentucky is better all-around offensively than it was three months ago.
Cincinnati has a good defense, but if Kentucky gets out to an early lead, they won’t be able to play their style. The Bearcats don’t have the type of team that can come back from 10-point deficits. But for the Wildcats, they need to start giving their all. The Bearcats, and any future opponent, will be planning on bringing their A-Game to take down the undefeated team.