The Cincinnati Bearcats look to improve to 4-0 to start the season for the 5th time in 6 seasons tonight at Fifth Third Arena against a familiar foe in the Campbell Fighting Camels (2-2). These aren’t just any camels, though. They’re Fighting Camels. Furthermore, this isn’t just any day. It’s hump day.
This is the second season in which the Bearcats have taken on the Camels in the early season. Cashmere Wright, Jaquon Parker, and Sean Kilpatrick all contributed double digit points as the #22 ranked Bearcats defeated Campbell 91-72 last season. SK also recorded a double-double for that game. One can expect a similar outcome in this game.
Despite being a familiar foe for the Bearcats, the Camels only return one starter from the 2012-2013 season in the form of Reco McCarter. Reco put up 10 points against Cashmere and the Cats last year, but is only averaging 7.5 on the season this year. What the Camels did add to the roster, however, are three players who are averaging double-digit points per game this season. Two of these players, Darius Leonard and Andrew Ryan, are shooting 0.500+ for the season.
Darius Leonard is a powerful 6’9″ 225lb forward who is averaging 15.3 points per game as well as 6.5 rebounds per game. As you can expect, he leads the team in both categories. He appears to be quite dangerous in terms of scoring and isn’t afraid to drive to the basket. On the season, Leonard is shooting 0.568 but was unstoppable in the Camels’ game against Appalachian State where he went 6-7 for 16 points. Although he leads the team in several categories, Leonard is only averaging 23.5 minutes of playing time per game. If the Bearcats can find a way to keep him off the court and keep him quiet while he’s on, he shouldn’t pose too much of a risk.
Campbell’s 2nd leading scorer is in the form of the sharp shooter Andrew Ryan. Ryan is averaging 11.5 points per game and is shooting 0.577 from the field. He can hit both inside the key as well as from range and is shooting 0.583 from behind the arc this season. The Bearcats seem to have had problems with guarding the open man for the three this season and Ryan could definitely pose a threat in the remark. Look for the Camels to identify this and exploit it with Ryan.
Although the Camels overall are shooting 0.475 on the season, they are only averaging 67.3 points per game. Furthermore, these are the same teams that the Bearcats have played (Appalachian State, NC State, NC Central) and have averaged 73 points per game against. This discrepancy can be accounted for by the Camels’ turnover percentage this year. Per game, they are turning over 22.8% of their possessions (28th in the nation) and only averaging 1.02 points per possession. Furthermore, when they can get across half court without losing possession they seem to struggle to get the ball within the paint. On the season, they are averaging 20.5 three-point attempts per game. This is almost twice as many as the Bearcats have attempted this year under the new Mick Cronin offensive scheme.
I’m calling for a repeat of last year’s matchup between the Bearcats and the Camels. While Campbell can be effective from both inside the arc and from range, they have yet to face a D as tenacious as what Mick’s brewed up. While both Darius Leonard and Andrew Ryan both pose threats to a Bearcat 4-0 start, Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles have been nearly unstoppable defensively in both shot-blocking as well as rebounds. On average, the Bearcats in whole average 7 blocks per game (21st in the nation) and 42.7 rebounds per game (43rd in the nation) — 18.3 of which are offensive boards (6th in the nation). Campbell only averages 32.5 rebounds per game (283th in the nation). Out-rebounding Campbell on both offense and defense leads to an easy Bearcat win. Expect another monster performance from both Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles on both sides of the ball and to see extensive minutes from Troy Caupain and the rest of the freshmen. Look for the Bearcats to go 4-0 on the season and 4-0 against teams from North Carolina this season. Cincinnati 77, Campbell 60. Bring on Duke.
Chris Bains’s Prediction:
Transitive properties are dangerous to use in sports but Campbell struggled mightily against NC State and NC Central teams that both lost to Cincinnati. I’ve gotta believe the Bearcats handle these guys easily as Justin Jackson/Titus Rubles exert their dominance down low and Troy Caupain continues to emerge as UC’s best shot at point guard. Cincinnati 82, Campbell 61.
Mike Jorgensen’s Prediction:
I had courtside seats last year for the game against the Fightn’ Camels and we handled them pretty easily but started to slip up at the end. Mick’s teams always feel like they have rocky starts to seasons (see Presbyterian disaster of 2011). A lot of times his teams take a hard emotional turn at some point in the season and really toughen up. This team seems ready to play from the outset this year. We’re much better than Campbell but I don’t expect too large of a win since I think we’re going to clear out the bench for a full half. My guess is: Cincinnati 75 – Campbell 62.
Spencer Tuckerman’s Prediction:
Troy Caupain’s last game has me optimistic about his progression. The Camels are probably our weakest opponent so far this year, so look for Caupain to pick up serious minutes and have another solid game against a team that just can’t match our athleticism. Rubles and Thomas are also poised for another big game. Given that he probably won’t get major minutes in the 2nd half, Kilpatrick will likely have another game with numbers that don’t really jump out at you. Rebounding is gonna be huge in UC’s favor, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Rubles picks up a double-double. Unlike last year where this game got close in the 2nd half, I think the Bearcats are going to run away early for a 75-53 drubbing.
Ben Levin’s Prediction:
Every year, Mick Cronin says “we’re going to use pressure, play ten guys, and wear teams down.” We’ve yet to see it truly click against conference opponents, but when UC uses it against teams with inferior athleticism, pressure has been a buzzsaw. This should be one of those games. UC 80, Campbell 58.
Tommy Perry’s Prediction:
UC wins 78-55. While Campbell is definitely an inferior opponent, they have some success from behind the arc when they get hot. If the ‘Cats can set the tempo and force some wild shots, this one should be over quickly. Look for Troy Caupain to have another strong game and for SK to score 15-20 points. If Guyn is out, I would expect Cronin to give JD3 a few extra minutes. We will need his 3-point stroke this season and I think at some point, he will break his way out of the proverbial doghouse and be a sold contributor offensively for this team.