The Case For: Cincinnati

The Case For: Cincinnati

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - What does Cincinnati have in common with teams like Duke, Kansas, Michigan State and North Carolina?

They are among only eight teams who will be making at least their sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Bearcats (West Region 9th seed) are known for their defense. Always have been. Sometimes it's tough enough to advance in March, even with Cincinnati's at-times horrendous offensive capabilities in recent years.

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Casual NCAA fans may have seen that shiny 97 next to Cincinnati's name on the ticker Friday. But it took them four overtimes to get there in that instant-classic loss to Connecticut in an American Conference Tournament game.

But there's another 97 that could be a problem. That's UC's Adjusted Offensive Efficiency ranking from metrics champ Ken Pomeroy. That's not good.

What is good about Cincinnati, however, is that it checks in at No. 8 on KenPom's Adjusted Defensive Efficiency rating.

And they'll need to be strong defensively just to win their opener against No. 8 seed St. Joseph's, which features the high-scoring tandem of Isaiah Miles and DeAndre Bembry. The forwards average a combined 35 points and 15 rebounds per game.

If the Bearcats can inflict their grinding style and slow Miles and Bembry some and keep things at least even on the backboards, then look for surging Cincy guard Troy Caupain -- next year's Perry Ellis -- to be the guy with the ball in his hands late, looking for a game-winner in what will no doubt be a tight contest. Caupain leads UC with 13 points per game, but has averaged 24 over his last four games, including two career-high efforts.

The take here is that a win over St. Joseph's wouldn't be a surprise -- I expect it, in fact -- but advancing past No. 1 seed Oregon two days later would be.

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