Hey did your mascot ever get out of the clink?
It’s another game of the Orange versus Cincinnati, which means we turn to our resident Cincinnati blogger Scott from Bearcats Blog. We’ve done several Q&A’s with him in the past and he’s knowledgeable with his Cincy and Big East knowledge. Let’s get to it.
1. Orange::44: Cincinnati only has one loss, but their non-conference schedule wasn't exactly filled with powerhouses. How good is Cincinnati?
Bearcats Blog: That's the big question going around the program right now. The big (by margin) victories over Dayton and Xavier really haven't opened that many eyes, mainly because Dayton has taken some bad losses, and X is pretty undermanned. Still, the Bearcats have done nothing but take care of business out of conference. The Nova game was a little disappointing because Cincinnati completely lost it for 5 minutes and suddenly it was a 20 point game. But, they came back, and had chances to get the lead under 7. After having said all that, I'm not really that sure, but I think they are tournament good.
2. Orange::44: Is Yancy Gates still the best player on the team? If not who is?
BB: He's probably still the best player. He's been on a tear as of late, minus the USF game where he put up a 9-3, and was averaging 15 and 8 or 9 the past 4 games before that. One of the problems of the Bearcats is that they don't really have a best player. Dion Dixon plays really hard, and is still the Bearcats' leading scorer, and my best friend, but he's been in a horrid shooting slump. Sean Kilpatrick has been great off the bench when UC needs it, he's got 3 20 point games, and led the team with 18 last night. He will also disappear.
3. Orange::44: What is the best way to beat Cincinnati?
BB: Force the offense out. The Bearcats like getting the ball in to Gates, and the guards attack the lane. Wright and Dixon have scored most of their points at the line as of late. Villanova's defense was in a way that let Cincinnati put up 20 three pointers. The Orange are known for their zone, duh, which is also bad because the Cincinnati big men love shooting outside jumpers. As for defense, don't turn the ball over. UC has forced opponents into more turnovers than assists in every game this season. It's how they got back in the Nova game. UC isn't deep in the front court, so getting Gates and Ibrahima Thoms in foul trouble would be good. For you. Bad for me.
4. Orange::44: How do the Bearcats plan to try and stop Syracuse?
BB: Obviously the biggest task is stopping the bigs. The Bearcats can run multiple bodies at Jackson and Joseph. The guards can force turnovers, and Jardine and Triche can be prone. Offensively, they can't settle for shots. If you remember a year ago, the Bearcats were actually leading the Orange up until the under 12 timeout. Then, the Orange defense tightened, and the Bearcats got 1 field goal, and 5 points the rest of the game. This Bearcats squad has been known to go on offensive lapses. They can't let that happen.
5. Orange::44: What will the most important match up of the day be?
BB: I think everyone is going to say Gates on Jackson, or Thomas on Jackson, and I'm going to as well. Jackson is a monster. He had 10 boards in the game last year, and now he's added offense. Thomas or Bishop or Wilks on Joseph is also going to be huge. Joseph lit up the Bearcats last season, and they have pretty much the same defenders on him this season.
6. Orange::44: How do you see this game shaking out?
BB: I'm not very optimistic about this game for UC. The Orange don't seem to match up well with them. But, I think that the Bearcats can keep it close with their defense. I don't see the offense doing enough to get the win. I put the over under on UC 3s at 19, and I think it goes over. I think Syracuse wins, something like 78-69.