Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season. We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order. We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.
The Cincinnati Bearcats were one of the big losers of the conference realignment in college basketball. The program goes from the powerful Big East to the American Athletic Conference which will be respectable this year but suffers a huge hit once Louisville leaves. As for the 2013-14 season, Mick Cronin’s club loses some key players but should still be knocking on the door of a fourth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Last Season: T-9th, 9-9 in Big East, 22-12 overall
Predicted AAC Finish: 4th
Projected Depth Chart
C: David Nyarsuk (Sr)/Jamaree Strickland (Fr)
PF: Justin Jackson (Sr)/Jermaine Lawrence (Fr)
SF: Titus Rubles (Sr)/Jermaine Sanders (Jr)/Shaquille Thomas (So)
SG: Sean Kilpatrick (Sr)/Jeremiah Davis (So)/DeShaun Mormon (Fr)
PG: Ge’Lawn Guyn (Jr)/Troy Caupain (Fr)/Kevin Johnson (Fr)
Gone: PG-Cashmere Wright, SG-JaQuon Parker, C-Cheikh Mbodj, C-Kelvin Gaines (transfer-North Texas)
With Cashmere Wright and JaQuon Parker gone, the Cincy offensive arsenal will center around Sean Kilpatrick. The physical two guard is a terrific all-around scorer though a high volume shooter. He is the lone returning player who averaged more than six points per game last season and should be the focal point of every opposing defense.
Two questions for the Bearcats; who will get Kilpatrick the ball and help take some of scoring load off him? Ge’Lawn Guyn has been used in a reserve role the past two seasons but hasn’t shown anything to be handed the starting point guard position. As a result, freshmen Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson should compete for immediate minutes as well. Both guys are more combo guards with Caupain being a better distributor and Johnson known more as a shooter. Redshirt sophomore Jermiah Davis and freshman DeShaun Mormon provide more depth at the two.
With the uncertainty on offense, Cronin needs Cincinnati to be one of the better defensive teams in the country and they have the length and athleticism in the frontcourt to do just that. Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles figure to start at forward. Both guys played significant roles last season and Jackson has added some muscle in the off-season so he should be more physical. Rubles is more of an offensive threat who is at his best off the bounce and needs to become a more consistent scorer to help take some of the pressure off Kilpatrick.
Jermaine Sanders and Shaquille Thomas provide even more depth and defensive capability off the bench. Talented freshman Jermaine Lawrence should factor in the equation as well.
With Cheikh Mbodj gone, 7-1 David Nyarsuk becomes the primary big man on the roster. He is still very raw on the offensive end but earns his playing time due of his shot blocking and rebounding. 6-10, 270 pound freshman Jamaree Strickland is another big body inside but expect to Cronin to use a smaller, more athletic line-up featuring either Jackson or Lawrence at center.
The Cincinnati Bearcats have what it takes to be a lock down defensive team. Outside of Kilpatrick, putting points on the scoreboard is the primary concern for Cincy. If they can find complimentary scorers and cause havoc on defense, they should be an NCAA Tournament team.
Player to Watch: Sean Kilpatrick
When he is on, Kilpatrick can single-handedly carry Cincinnati with his scoring ability and had he left a year early for the NBA Draft, it would have been a huge loss. Until someone replaces Wright and Parker as second and third scoring options, Kilpatrick might have to average twenty-plus points per game for the ‘Cats to be a tourney-caliber team.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/12 vs. N.C. State
12/7 at New Mexico
12/14 vs. Xavier
12/17 vs. Pitt (in New York)
12/21 vs. Middle Tennessee
12/28 vs. Nebraska
OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#52 Boston College
#53 Ole Miss
#56 Saint Mary’s
#60 Florida Gulf Coast
#64 Florida State
#66 N.C. State
#67 Kansas State
#70 Miami FL
#72 Texas A&M
#73 Long Beach State
#76 Indiana State
#77 Georgia Tech
#84 Washington State
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#95 Seton Hall
#97 George Mason
#99 Penn State
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#108 Virginia Tech
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks