#23 Cincinnati Bearcats: College Basketball 111 in 111


cincinnati cheerleaders

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

For the first time since joining the Big East Conference, the Cincinnati Bearcats made the NCAA Tournament last season.  Defense was their driving force and that will once again be the case even though Mick Cronin welcomes seven new players into the fold.

Last Season: T-6th, 11-7 in Big East, 26-9 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 6th

Projected Depth Chart
C/F: Cheikh Mbodj (Jr)/Kelvin Gaines (Fr)
PF: Yancy Gates (Sr)/Justin Jackson (So)/Octavius Ellis (Fr)
G/F: Sean Kilpatrick (So)/Shaquille Thomas (Fr)/Jermaine Sanders (Fr)
G: Dion Dixon (Sr)/Jeremiah Davis (Fr)
PG: Cashmere Wright (Jr)/JaQuon Parker (Jr)/Ge’Lawn Guyn (Fr)

Gone: SF-Rashad Bishop, PF-Ibrahima Thomas, SG-Larry Davis, SF-Darnell Wilks, PG-Eddie Tyree, C-Anthony McClain

2011-2012 Outlook:
While Cincy loses several roles players, they still return their top four scorers from last season.  That includes their backcourt trio of Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon, and Sean Kilpatrick.

Wright underwent his third knee surgery this off-season but is ready to go for the start of the year.  He is a terrific defender with quick hands and solid distributor.  Cronin will need Wright to assume the leadership responsibility and for his body to hold up physically.  Seldom used JaQuan Parker will backup Wright with freshman Ge’Lawn Guyn pushing for minutes as well.

Dixon is a solid off guard who buys into the defensive philosophy with his toughness but can also score when needed.  Kilpatrick is a more offensive minded player and the team’s top three-point threat.  Freshmen Jeremiah Davis, Jermaine Sanders, and Shaquille Thomas will compete for minutes off the bench.  Sanders is a bigger, physical wing while Thomas relies on his athleticism and length.  Both guys could be big factors off the bench especially if they commit to the defensive end.

Yancy Gates will anchor the Bearcats in the middle.  He has had his share of ups and downs throughout his collegiate career but has the potential to a dominating big man when he puts forth the effort.  Junior college transfer Cheikh Mbodj figures to start alongside Gates up-front.  Mbodj is physical down low and can protect the rim on D, but he is also a polished offensive player.  It will be very difficult for opposing teams to match-up with the size and skill of the Gates/Mbodj duo.

Justin Jackson is an athletic forward who figures to see an increased role this season off the bench.  Redshirt freshman Kevlin Gaines and newcomer Octavius Ellis will also try to work themselves into the rotation.  Gaines is more of a true post player while Ellis is effective operating from the perimeter but also uses his length to be a factor on defense.

It will be interesting to see how Cincinnati reacts to heightened expectations this season.  They figure to be ranked in the preseason Top 25 for the first time since 2003-2004 and were picked to finish fifth in the Big East preseason media poll.  I am not sure the Bearcats will be as stout defensively as they were a year ago since they have to replace three solid, versatile defenders in Bishop, Wilks, and Davis especially since they acclimate seven new players into the fold.  Still, Cronin will get his kids to play as hard as possible on that end of the floor.

yancy gates cincy

Player to Watch: Yancy Gates
Inconsistency has plagued his first three seasons as it’s always a toss as to which Gates will show up; the one who wants to dominate or the one who tends to coast through forty minutes.  He has a solid mid-range game but too often plays out on the perimeter rather than imposing his will down low.  Gates will need to overpower defenders in the post and bring solid energy to the floor on a nightly basis if Cincy is going to live up to their expectations.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25 vs. Marshall
12/2 at Georgia (Big East/SEC Challenge)
12/10 at Xavier
12/29 vs. Oklahoma

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#24 Kansas Jayhawks
#25 UNLV Rebels
#26 Washington Huskies
#27 UCLA Bruins
#28 Butler Bulldogs
#29 Missouri Tigers
#30 Texas Longhorns
#31 Villanova Wildcats
#32 Michigan State Spartans
#33 Florida State Seminoles
#34 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#35 Harvard Crimson
#36 Illinois Fighting Illini
#37 Oregon Ducks
#38 Wichita State Shockers
#39 Cal Golden Bears
#40 Belmont Bruins
#41 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#42 Saint Mary’s Gaels
#43 Purdue Boilermakers
#44 BYU Cougars
#45 Kansas State Wildcats
#46 West Virginia Mountaineers
#47 Virginia Cavaliers
#48 George Mason Patriots
#49 Old Dominion Monarchs

#50 VCU Rams
#51 Kent State Golden Flashes
#52 Arkansas Razorbacks
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

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.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.


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