At roughly the same time tomorrow afternoon Bearcats basketball conveniently hosts the Alabama Crimson Tide. Like Cincinnati the Tide are undefeated this season with a solid win over the Villanova Wildcats. This is clearly a better team than in years past but they haven’t really been tested yet. To be honest they don’t really scare me. Statistically they’re all over the place; 9th in both offensive and defensive scoring, 4th in offensive/defensive field goal percentage, 12th in offensive/defensive rebounds.
When all the data is lined up the Crimson Tide seem like a pretty average team in a so-so SEC basketball conference. They boast some pretty solid scoring threats but don’t put up a ton of points and are marginal inside the paint. In fact, their top two rebounders aren’t power forwards or centers. They’re guards. Now, they’re lanky and athletic but they’re still guards at that. Some of this might be the fact that Alabama plays small, running a similar offense to Cincinnati, but I think it shows a glaring weakness in their team. I’ll get into this after the jump. Let’s breakdown the game.
Like I mentioned the Alabama Crimson Tide are good in some areas (scoring efficiency) and poor in others (rebounding). What those numbers reveal on the aggregate is an average basketball team. It’s still pretty early though but it seems like the Tide aren’t playing to their potential on the inside. Their 33 rebounds per game is encouraging for the Cincinnati Bearcats who are averaging almost 50. David Nyarsuk, Cheikh Mbodj, and Justin Jackson have the potential to eat this team alive in the paint.
Players to Watch
The Battle of the Three Headed Monsters: Cash Wright, Sean Kilpatrick, and JaQuon Parker vs. Trevor Releford, Rodney Cooper, and Trevor Lacey. The Bearcats and Crimson Tide emphasize using guards to create scoring but in very different ways. Cincinnati utilizes its talented guards to push the tempo, create opportunities off turnovers, and overall try to instill confusion in opposing teams to score points. Alabama appears to use a similar lineup as UC focusing on a few dangerous guards but instead try to utilize their ability to hit the three ball.
So while you’ll see Cash, Killa, and Parker drive and get points in a variety of ways I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alabama push it around the perimeter with Releford, Cooper, and Lacy to find a hot hand from beyond the arc. From a 1-on-1 standpoint, UC’s guards have quick hands on defense and create turnovers. The Crimson Tide tend to give the ball away which plays right into Cincinnati’s gameplan. The Bearcats should boast the advantage here but it will be an interesting match-up nonetheless.
Final Thoughts and Prediction
I think this is a solid Alabama basketball team but they don’t have the kind of playmakers like on the Cincinnati roster. This will prove to be a good game and will be another solid test for the Bearcats, hopefully adding to UC’s strength of schedule come tournament time. I can’t see Cincy losing this one.