There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview the East Region’s 6-11 matchup between the resurgent Cincinnati Bearcats under Mick Cronin and Rick Barnes’ young, feisty Texas Longhorns.
Cincinnati-Texas Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas in East Region
- Cincinnati-Texas Date: Friday, March 16th
- Cincinnati-Texas Tip Time: 12:15 ET
- Cincinnati-Texas Location: Nashville
- Cincinnati-Texas TV: CBS
- Cincinnati-Texas Announcers: Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel
- Cincinnati-Texas Point Spread: Cincinnati -2
- Tickets: Cincinnati-Texas Tickets
- Tickets: All Nashville Sessions
- Tickets: East Regional Tickets in Boston
Cincinnati-Texas Analysis and Prediction
Give some kudos to Rick Barnes, who guided a team forced to play six freshmen into the tournament. Sure, a soft bubble deserves some credit for that as well, but I’m trying to be nice here.
The Bearcats turned their season around following their brawl with Xavier, and their resurgence culminated with a run to the Big East Championship Game. They have three solid guards in Cashmere Wright, Dion Dixon, and Sean Kilpatrick, and this team’s experience and toughness should give them an advantage over the young Longhorns.
One area where Texas appears to have a huge advantage is on the offensive glass, but if Cincinnati can limit second chance points, I like their chances to advance.
Predicted Winner: Cincinnati
Cincinnati Bearcats Team Capsule
- Conference: Big East
- Record: 24-10 (12-6 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 7-3
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 7-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Connecticut, Georgetown (2), Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Syracuse
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Louisville, Marquette, South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia, Xavier
- Player to Watch: Yancy Gates (6’9” F, Sr.) – 12.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg
Cincinnati Bottoms Line:
Give Mick Cronin and the Bearcats a ton of credit, because after a slow start and then the brawl against Xavier, it would have been easy for Cincinnati to go in the tank. However, they fought back to finish 12-6 in the Big East and made a run to the championship of the conference tournament.
Cronin essentially uses a six-man rotation, with five of those players scoring at least 9.2 points per game. Sean Kilpatrick leads the team with 14.3 points per contest, and backcourt mates Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright both score at least 10 points with Wright leading the team in assists and steals. On the interior, Yancy Gates is playing the best basketball of his career and finished the regular season averaging 12.4 points and 9.2 rebounds. Throw in glue guys like Jaquon Parker and Justin Jackson, and you have a solid nucleus to count on.
From an efficiency standpoint, the Bearcats have an extremely low turnover rate, and rank inside the Top 40 in offensive rebounding percentage. However, their shooting percentages are pretty ugly, and they rarely get to the free throw line. On the defensive end, they have been victimized on the offensive glass, but they rarely give opponents free points by sending them to the free throw line. After such a strong performance in the Big East Tournament, the Bearcats should have plenty of confidence heading into the Big Dance.
Texas Longhorns Team Capsule
- Conference: Big 12
- Record: 20-13 (9-9 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 4-11
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Iowa State (2), Kansas State, Temple
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor (2), Iowa State, Kansas (2), Kansas State, Missouri (3), North Carolina, North Carolina State
- Player to Watch: J’Covan Brown (6’1” G, Jr.) – 20.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.2 spg
Texas Bottoms Line:
Six members of the Texas rotation are freshmen, so you have to give Rick Barnes some credit for finding a way to get this team into the tournament.
The Longhorns rank just inside the Top 25 in offensive efficiency thanks to a high offensive rebounding percentage and the ability to get to the free throw line. They have really struggled to knock down long-range shots, which may prove problematic in the tournament. On defense, they are just inside the Top 50 in adjusted efficiency, but outside of a strong two-point defense, there isn’t a lot to love. The Longhorns rank 170th or worse in turnover rate, three-point defense, defensive rebounding percentage, and opponents’ free throw rate.
J’Covan Brown was essentially the only returnee of note from last season, and he has stepped up offensively, averaging over 20 points per game and fishing second on the team in assists. Freshman Myck Kabongo was a highly touted recruit, and he currently leads the Longhorns in assists, scores nearly 10 points per game, and ranks among the nation’s leaders in free throw rate. Clint Chapman, Jonathan Holmes, and Jaylen Bond will be relied upon to clean the glass, particularly with Alexis Wangmene sidelined. All three players also make better than 51 percent of their two-pointers, but ultimately it’s difficult to expect a team so young to play well in their first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Related: Jump to our East Region Bracket Breakdown
See our other individual game previews and predictions:
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- East Region: #8 Kansas State v #9 Southern Miss
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama