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Cincinnati vs Louisville Preview

Tonight at 7 on ESPN, Cincinnati travels to rival Louisville to take on the Louisville Cardinals. It's the final Big Monday game of the regular season. It's the final weekday game of the regular season for the Cats. It's the final road game as well. It could be the final time Cincinnati wins or loses this season. This could be Cincinnati's final road trip to Louisville as members of the same conference. There are a lot of finals in play here. 

The game should be very good. Since 2008, the games in the series have been decided by 6, 4, 9, 3, 8, 9, and 1. Mick Cronin lists Rick Pitino as one of his mentors. Cronin famously left Cincinnati to go coach at Louisville as prep to get into a head coaching job. It worked out well for Mick because he went to Murray State and from there he came to Cincinnati. It's a personal game for Mick and Rick. It's brought out some of the best in Cronin and in Cincinnati. By the way, I'm retroactively making the Big East tournament championship game a good game. It was horrible to watch and set basketball back years, but it was a 6 point margin. 

Cashmere Wright is 27-59, 45.7%, 12-27, 44% from 3 and averaging 14.6 points a game against Louisville in his career. If you toss out his 1-6, 3 point outing in the 2010 Big East tournament, that number moves up to 17.5 points a game and he's hitting 49%. He's played some of his best ball against Peyton Siva and Louisville. Two of his twelve 20 point outings have been against the Cards. He's in a major slump. This would be the best time to break out of it!

Stats are conference numbers only 

 

Record: 20-9, 8-8 

Road/Neutral: 8-3

RPI (from Real Time RPI)50

Vs Louisville: 42-54

At Louisville: 15-30

Last Meeting: 44-50, March 10, 2012 (Big East Championship Game)

Spread: Louisville by 10

Minutes

  • Sean Kilpatrick 35.8
  • JaQuon Parker 31.6
  • Cashmere Wright 31
  • Titus Rubles 22.6
  • Cheikh Mbodj 22.2

Scoring

  • Sean Kilpatrick 16.9
  • Cashmere Wright 11.4
  • JaQuon Parker 10.4
  • Titus Rubles 5.7
  • Cheikh Mbodj 4.9

Field Goal % (Min 15 attempts)

  • Justin Jackson 42.5
  • JaQuon Parker 42.3
  • Cheikh Mbodj 41.3
  • Jermaine Sanders 38.8
  • Sean Kilpatrick 38

Free Throw % (Minimum 15 attempts)

  • Cashmere Wright 86.4
  • Sean Kilpatrick 77
  • Cheikh Mbodj 69.2
  • Titus Rubles 65.5
  • Justin Jackson 55.6

3 Pointers Made (3 point %)

  • Sean Kilpatrick 42 (30.7%)
  • Cashmere Wright 25 (24.8%)
  • JaQuon Parker 16 (37.2%)
  • Jermaine Sanders 9 (29%)
  • Ge'Lawn Guyn 5 (25%)

Rebounding

  • Titus Rubles 5.8
  • JaQuon Parker 4.75
  • Sean Kilpatrick 4.75
  • Justin Jackson 4.4
  • Cheikh Mbodj 4.1

Assists

  • Cashmere Wright 46
  • Titus Rubles 30
  • Sean Kilpatrick 26
  • JaQuon Parker 22
  • Justin Jackson 19

Turnovers

  • JaQuon Parker 33
  • Sean Kilpatrick 28
  • Cashmere Wright 25
  • Justin Jackson 25
  • Titus Rubles 22

Steals

  • Cashmere Wright 19
  • Sean Kilpatrick 15
  • Titus Rubles 14
  • JaQuon Parker 8
  • Shaq Thomas 8

Blocks

  • Cheikh Mbodj 39
  • Justin Jackson 19
  • David Nyarsuk 11
  • Sean Kilpatrick 5
  • Kelvin Gaines / Titus Rubles 4

Record: 24-5, 12-4

Home: 13-1

RPI: 5

Minutes

  • Gorgui Dieng 34.3
  • Peyton Siva 32.5
  • Russ Smith 31.3
  • Chane Behanan 27.5
  • Luke Hancock 23

Points

  • Russ Smith 17.3
  • Gorgui Dieng 10.6
  • Chane Behanan 10.1
  • Luke Hancock 8.1
  • Peyton Siva 7.9

Field Goal %

  • Montrezl  Harrell 55.4
  • Gorgui Dieng 49.2
  • Chane Behanan 48.4
  • Luke Hancock 44
  • Wayne Blackshear 41

FT %

  • Peyton Siva 93
  • Russ Smith 87
  • Wayne Blackshear 79
  • Luke Hancock 75
  • Gorgui Dieng 68.6

3 Pointers Made (3 point %)

  • Luke Hancock 28 (41.8%)
  • Russ Smith 20 (31.3%)
  • Wayne Blackshear 14 (28.6%)
  • Peyton Siva 9 (20%)
  • Kevin Ware 7 (33.3%)

Rebounding

  • Gorgui Dieng 11
  • Chane Behanan 7.2
  • Russ Smith 4.1
  • Montrezl Harrell 3.2
  • Wayne Blackshear 2.5

Assists

  • Peyton Siva 97
  • Russ Smith 51
  • Gorgui Dieng 31
  • Chane Behanan 21
  • Luke Hancock 14

Turnovers

  • Peyton Siva 43
  • Russ Smith 36
  • Gorgui Dieng 35
  • Chane Behanan 31
  • Kevin Ware 16

Steals

  • Peyton Siva 30
  • Russ Smith 25
  • Chane Behanan 24
  • Gorgui Dieng 22
  • Luke Hancock 18

Blocks

  • Gorgui Dieng 45
  • Chane Behanan 11
  • Montrezl Harrell 9
  • Wayne Blackshear 5

Cincinnati hasn't played at Louisville since January of 2010. That seems almost impossible. Lance Stephenson was on the Bearcats it was so long ago. Quirky Big East schedule makers. 

Cincinnati has defeated Louisville in each of the past 3 seasons. Twice in the regular season and once in the 2010 Big East tournament. 

Peyton Siva is second in the Big East with 6.1 assists per game and 3rd in the league with 1.9 steals a game. 

Gorgui Dieng has blocked the second most shots in the league. He's blocking shots on 9% of possessions.

Cheikh Mbodj leads the Big East in block percentage at 12.4%. Two of the best shot blockers in the league will be on the court. 

Louisville is scoring 1.05 points per possession, tied for the 4th highest in the league with Pittsburgh. Cincinnati is averaging the 5th fewest points per possession at 0.97. Which might hurt a lot because …

Louisville has the best defense in the league and it's not close. The Cardinals are giving up .088 points per possession. That's .04 less than Georgetown. Cincinnati is 5th at 0.97. The difference between 1 and 2 is nearly the difference between 2 and 5. That's amazing. Louisville has the best defense in the country on the Ken Pom rankings. Their adjusted defensive is 80.9. Florida is #2 at 83.3. That's about the same difference between 2 and 5 as well. Louisville's defense is on a whole separate level. 

Louisville plays one of the faster paces in the league with 67. Cincinnati is one of the slowest at 62. Cincinnati is 1 of 2 teams to not reach 1,000 possessions yet. The other is USF. That game on Saturday may be boring. 

The Cardinals are in the middle of the pack shooting wise, they are making 43%, have an effective FG % of 47.5% and a true shooting % of 52. Effective weighs 3s, true weighs 3s and free throws. UC is second to last in all of those except true shooting percentage. They are 3rd to last in that. 

Defensively, Louisville is second in every category behind Georgetown. Cincinnati ranks 9, 7 and 7. 

Louisville is a decent team at the foul line. They make 71.4%. Their free throw rate of 40.9 follows Cincinnati's rate of 41.5. On the flip side, the Cards have seen their opponents shoot just 65% at the stripe. They foul the right people. They are giving up the 4th lowest FT rate in the league. Cincinnati has seen their rate balloon to 8th. 

Contrary to past Louisville teams, this Cardinal bunch doesn't shoot the 3 that often. They have the 5th fewest attempts and are making just 31%. Cincinnati has the most at 355. That's 15 more than second place USF. Louisville doesn't shut down the 3 point attempts like UC does, the Cards are in the middle of the bunch in attempts. They are seeing 32.6% hit against them. That's also in the middle of the bunch. 

Rebounding is a battle of the bests. Cincinnati is the best defensive rebounding team in the league. The Cats pull in 71.2% of their opponents misses. Louisville is the best offensive rebounding team in the league. They pull in 38.7% of their misses. While UC is 7th in offensive rebound % and Louisville is 7th in defensive rebound %, the Bearcats pull down a Big East best 53.2% of rebounds. Louisville is 4th at 52.2%. 

Some of the rebounding numbers may skew towards Louisville with the status of Justin Jackson looking grim. From many of the tweets on Saturday, he's not expected to play tonight. 

Turnovers are going to play a big role. Cincinnati turns the ball over on 18.5% of possessions. Louisville forces them on a Big East high 25.2%. 1 of every 4 trips is a turnover. Louisville gets steals on 15% of possessions. That's a lot. Cincinnati forces the 3rd fewest at 18.2%. Louisville turns it over 19.2%, which isn't that great. Cincinnati and Louisville rarely have the ball stolen, 1 and 2 in lowest opponent steal percentage. 

This is a huge opportunity for the Cats. They missed a couple of big RPI opportunities in New Mexico, Syracuse and Georgetown. Win this game and they don't have to worry about making the NCAA tournament any longer. Win and they will  probably not be stuck with the 11th seed in the BET. Not with St John's set to free fall. Win and they make a mark. They turn some heads. They reverse the situation they have been in the last month. February wasn't good. March is off to a great start. The rest of the season can be whatever Cincinnati wants it to be. They can shock the nation and win at Louisville tonight. We know they are capable. We know they have done it before. They have to take advantage. 

College basketball is probably my favorite sport. I think you can probably tell by reading the site. I don't want to get sappy to end the post, but I'm about to. A huge reason I love college basketball so much is because my dad did. That's a reason a lot of us love some of the things we love. My family is from Louisville. I've talked about this before. I am the only member of my family born out of Louisville. I lived in Louisville as a little kid and moved to Cincinnati before kindergarten. When I got into basketball, I got into the 1992 Cincinnati Bearcats. That was the first team that I absolutely loved. The other team I loved was the 1986 Louisville Cardinals. Why? Because my dad had a tape of Louisville winning the national title against Duke. I was the only kid in Cincinnati pretending to be Billy Thompson in 1992. I'm 100% sure of that.

I loved watching games with my dad because duh. It was funny when Louisville or Cincinnati was playing lousy, he would get mad and say he was going to turn it off because "They are going to lose and I don't want to watch them lose." He never turned it off. I don't have the same attitude. His negativity turned me into the positive one who said "Come on dad, don't change it, they are going to come back. Let's keep watching." Nearly all of the basketball games I went to growing up were with him. The best night of basketball I ever saw was the 2002 NCAA tournament with Indiana-Duke followed by Kent State-Pittsburgh. It was exhilarating to watch. The ride home from Lexington to Cincinnati was spent listening to ESPN radio and talking about the games. One of the best nights of my life.

I've talked about how my dad was a terrible sports fan and rooted for everyone. I STILL remember the Louisville/Cincinnati game from 2001 when Logan bounced the pass behind Lenny Stokes, who started to move, to lock up a Cincinnati loss to the Cards. We didn't watch it together, but I remember going upstairs and talking to him about the game after it was over. I watched some of the BET championship game with him. The two teams I follow the most are Louisville and Cincinnati. It's because of my dad. That game was the last one I watched with him. This one is the first one I'll watch without him. I don't know if there is any point to this paragraph other than to say enjoy watching the game with the people that you love. It will only last 40 minutes (maybe a few more), but you don't know what will stick with you 12 years later. 

Enjoy the game, everybody. 

Scott

About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on Run the Floor.

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