We are hours away from the Iowa basketball team’s first round matchup with Cincinnati. Here’s an opposing insider on what the Bearcats bring to the table.
One of the disadvantages of March Madness is the lack of information we typically have on the opposing team. For example, the Iowa basketball team hasn’t played Cincinnati in 14 years, and they have just two common opponents from this season. That limited amount of overlap makes it incredibly difficult to put together an expectation for this game, but fortunately, I had the opportunity to do a Q&A with a Cincinnati Bearcats insider.
JT Smith of The Front Office News was kind enough to give me some insight into this Bearcats team, and let me forewarn you, I left our conversation feeling significantly less excited about this matchup than I did when I wrote three reasons why the Iowa basketball team can beat Cincinnati.
Q. How strong is the AAC this year? There’s been a lot of talk of the Big Ten being the top conference in the nation, but the AAC had 4 schools make the tournament this year.
A. The AAC is very solid they had 4 teams make March Madness, I know Memphis made the NIT. Very underrated conference and it seems a few programs are on the rise.
Q. Cincinnati has only beaten a ranked team once this year, does that concern you as far as quality wins are concerned?
A. That has been a cause for concern, but they have only lost by double digits twice all season (Miss. St. and Houston). Cincinnati taking care of Houston in the AAC Championship game gives me cause to ease on the concern because Houston is the best team I’ve seen live all season.
Q. Is Cincinnati’s defense as good as people say it is? I realize the points per game allowed is
tops in the nation, but is that more a pace of play thing or strong defense?
A. This isn’t the best Cronin defense, but when they are locked in they make it hard for all teams. It takes an exceptional guard and a lot of shooters to have a shot against this group. Oh, and you have to be able to rebound well against this group or it can get ugly.
Q. Who is the best player on Cincinnati that the Hawks should be concerned with?
A. Jarron Cumberland is the guy, he is the AAC Player of the Year. He is the Bearcats leading scorer and assists guy, he’s a shot taker and playmaker.
Q. Offensively, what’s Cincinnati’s approach? It doesn’t look like they are a strong three-point shooting team.
A. They have two players have knocked them down all year Cumberland and Justin Jenifer, they have a few others that can hit some, but are more streaky. They use a lot of pick n roll action and a lot of curls to get Cumberland started in the mid range area.
Q. What makes Cincinnati so successful rebounding the ball offensively? This could be a huge advantage for them over Iowa.
A. They just have aggressive players, Nysier Brooks and Tre Scott fight for position on every play and if they can’t get it they create opportunities for the guards to crash also.
Q. Do Cincinnati’s fans travel well? It this as much of a home game as analysts say it will be?
A. This will be a home game for Cincinnati, fans travel well and this trip is roughly an hour and a half. People will think this game is at Fifth Third Arena!!!
Q. What’s your prediction for the game?
Cincinnati will win 70-55.
Again, if you left that feeling slightly worried about tomorrow, you are not alone, but the good thing is this Iowa basketball team has shown they can win in tough situations and that they have the three-point shooters that could make this quite an interesting contest.
If, however, the trio of Bohannon, Wieskamp, and Moss aren’t draining shots from downtown, we could be for quite a long morning and an offseason full of discussing Fran McCaffery’s job security.