(6) Cincinnati vs. (11) Texas Preview
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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(6) Cincinnati Bearcats
With their tournament livelihood hanging in the balance, the Bearcats picked up some big wins late in the regular season and conference tournament against ranked teams to ensure that they would be a part of the field for the second-straight year and 26th time in school history. The Bearcats feature three very solid upperclassmen in Dion Dixon, Yancy Gates and Cashmere Wright. Sophomore Sean Kilpatrick is their top offensive threat though, notching 14 points a game. The combination of Kilpatrick and Dixon in the backcourt, with Wright setting them up and Gates garnering attention down low can be quite explosive. The Bearcats play a physical brand of basketball and are battle tested, going 5-4 against the RPI Top 50. They take very good care of the basketball, but settle for tough shots at times which can lead to prolonged droughts. They have to avoid those and make sure to shoot better at the free throw line than they did during the regular season, when they only hit 64 percent of their attempts. Lack of depth is also a concern for the Bearcats.
(11) Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns were in serious danger of missing out on the tournament for the first time since 1998, but did just enough late in the season to punch their ticket for the 14th-straight year. Junior guard J’Covan Brown deserves a lot of credit for keeping them in the tournament mix. He’s exploded into one of the nation’s top scorers, putting up 20 a night while also grabbing three rebounds and handing out nearly four assists. He has the kind of scoring ability to put the Longhorns on his back and carry them to victory. He’s not head coach Rick Barnes’ only option out on the perimeter either. Myck Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan and Jonathan Holmes are playing big roles for him despite being freshmen. While very talented in the backcourt, the Longhorns are not a particularly good three-point shooting team. They also lack low-post scoring as Clint Chapman and Jonathan Holmes mainly convert easy buckets that the guards set them up for. They’re without Alexis Wangmene, who suffered a season-ending wrist injury recently. The Longhorns went 1-8 against the RPI Top 25 and 4-11 against teams in the Top 50.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Cincinnati. It’s really difficult to choose against J’Covan Brown, but Cincy has a lot of talent on the perimeter and should be able to battle him to a standstill.
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