The Layup Line: Appalachian State

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

They're probably most famous for their historic football upset over Michigan in 2007, and the Appalachian State Mountaineers would love to put the basketball world on notice this weekend.

Two games. Two wins. Two preview articles by me. Coincidence? I think not... The Bearcats faced an early season test against NC State and passed with flying colors. How can you not be at least a little impressed by the their effort so far? And where does the term "passed with flying colors" come from, anyway? Apparently it has to do with ships sailing back after battle; if they won their encounter, their flags flew high - signifying a victory. So fly those red and black colors, Bearcat fans!

Alright, enough of the history lesson; time to sail on over to a preview of Saturday's game (see what I did there?) against Appalachian State. Let's get honest with each other; Cronin's squad shouldn't face much of a test during the next 5 games. Which means you probably don't need to come here. But life with the Layup Line is a life I don't want to know, so strap on your warm-ups and get after it...

  • Game: Saturday, November 16 @ 2:00pm ET
  • Location: Fifth Third Arena/Shoemaker Center; Cincinnati, OH
  • TV/Radio: FSO; 102.7 WEBN FM

What we know about Appalachian State: they're the second favorite Mountaineer team in Cincinnati. They come into Saturday's matchup winless, and this contest will mark their first ever meeting against the Bearcats on the hardwood.

Appalachian State has four guys averaging double digit points a game so far this year. Senior forward Tevin Baskin (#01 in your hearts & programs) currently leads the Mountaineers with 14 a game. He spent all of last year as the sixth man and averaged 9.9 a game. He shouldn't pose much of a match-up problem for the Bearcats, though.

Junior guard Mike Neal (#23) is another one to keep an eye on. He started a majority of their games last year at point guard, and he scored 20 against Campbell this past Tuesday. I'd imagine the 'Cats full-court defensive pressure should keep him in check. He's chucked up 10 three-pointers already in 2 games, so I imagine Neal will fire a few more tomorrow. In fact, the Mountaineers as a team have put up 38 deep balls on the season but have only connected on 11 (29%).

As you're aware, Appy State (I can call them that, right?) has played a common opponent, NC State, and they lost by more than 20. The Bearcats are bigger, more athletic, and more talented than the Mountaineers (and NC State, for that matter). But you know what Appalachian State has that the Bearcats don't? They're located in a town named after Daniel Boone. In fact, Boone, North Carolina was listed as one of the 10 best places to retire in 2012. And retire **puts on sunglasses** is exactly what the 'Cats will do to them. YEEEEEAAAAAHHHH!

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Show up. Kidding; sort of... A win by Appy State on Saturday might not be on par with their football upset over Michigan in 2007, but it'd have to be close based on what I've seen from them so far.
  • Maintain a disparity in Free Throw attempts. No need to give the Mountaineers free points on Saturday. They've only attempted 44 free throws in 2 games whereas UC has visited the line 62 times. Limiting free throw attempts would mean the Bearcats stay out of foul trouble, too.
  • Get out to a quick lead. Starting the game with a few turnovers, fast break dunks, and a couple three-pointers would be great and give Mick a chance to continue developing the freshman.

My prediction: I haven't decided what I'm doing for the game yet. I have tickets, but there's also that pesky football game at noon that I'd like to watch as well. I've thought about recording the bball game and watching it later as if it were live, but I'm not sure... Anyway, the Bearcats won't have trouble inside the Shoe on Saturday: 81-63.

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