It’s #BeatXavier day, y’all. Let’s do some final prep.
From Cincy on the Prowl
The Musketeers are too top-heavy, in that they rely on Christon and Stainbrook to an extent to carry this team. Not so with the Bearcats. On any given night they could get 15-20 points from Sean Kilpatrick, Titus Rubles, Justin Jackson, and potentially Troy Caupain. There’s much more balance and depth on Cincinnati’s roster, which will allow Mick Cronin to wear down Chris Mack’s squad over the course of the game. Plus UC’s defense has been otherworldly this season. Like all Crosstown Shootouts, this one will be a hard fought game but I’m picking the Bearcats tomorrow night in a relatively low-scoring contest.
More Crosstown Shootout pregame links
On paper, this is a mismatch. The ‘Cats turnover margin is +7.4; Xavier’s is -.7 (and they haven’t played a D like Cincinnati’s). Both teams get to the free throw stripe at similar rates, but XU’s FT% is 12 points less than UC’s. The ‘Cats average 19 point victories to XU’s 9 point wins. BUT: Xavier has played a much tougher schedule?How tough, you ask? Well, as of right now, The Bearcats’ schedule ranks 239th to Xavier’s 110th ranked schedule. And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that this is a rivalry game. I think the Bearcats win, but it won’t be a blowout this year: 68-62.
Mick’s first year. Team was garbage. Xavier was not. UC beat em by 10 I believe and played out of their minds in the second half. I said going into the game that it was the game I wanted the most because Mick still wasn’t a popular choice back then (and still isn’t now for some people) and everyone knew UC wasn’t going to be very good so losing handily to X would have been even worse. But, Mick threw a junk defense at X and his band of JUCO refugees pulled it off.
Cincinnati should have a major advantage at the foul line. That’s right, the Bearcats. Cincinnati doesn’t shoot amazingly, 72.5%. Xavier shoots just 60.7%, one of the worst marks in the country. As you can see, a lot of it is because Christon is not a good foul shooter. Even if UC is trailing late, making Xavier hit could turn out well.
Xavier is in the lesser Big East Cincinnati might have not been in the Big East classic, but you could definitely say without a doubt they were in the deepest league in the history of college basketball. They were in the Big East when the BE put in the most tournament teams in history. They were in the Big East when a Big East team just won the national title and another Big East team was in the Final Four. And another Big East team was in the Elite 8. In 2011, a fourth Big East team won the national title. The current Big East has Creighton.