For the first 3/4 of Saturday's game against Rutgers, I felt like my unjustified fear of a Bearcats' loss was validated. And then the last 11 minutes happened, and the Bearcats ran away by double digits. I'll gladly pick single digit wins if it results in 20 point blowouts, am I right?
And did I save face there at all?
Didn't think so. Anyway, now it's time to turn our focus to another program envious of the success Mick Cronin has brought back to Cincinnati. The Bearcats are now ranked in the national polls, baby, and Temple (5-9) comes to town on a 4 game losing streak. The Owls are dead last in the AAC right now, and the Bearcats sit atop the leaderboard; two programs that obviously aren't in the same place...
- Game: Tuesday, January 14 @ 9:00pm ET
- Location: Fifth Third Arena/Shoemaker Center; Cincinnati, OH
- TV/Radio: CBSSN (Johansen and Wolf, again); 700WLW
Today's Line will be a little short; busy week for yours truly. Hold your complaints until after the season.
Here's what you need to know about Temple: the Owls have 4 guys that can score, and not much more. They're 1 of 3 teams in Division 1 to have 4 guys average 13 or more points a game. Oh - and they can't defend.
Temple is 3rd in the conference in scoring average (77.5 a game) but last in scoring defense (75.9 a game). If all goes according to plan, the Bearcats' defense should be the difference maker in this game.
Dalton Pepper (#32 in your program) is 3rd in the AAC in scoring at 17.2 a game, and the 6'5" guard also pulls down almost 6 rebounds a game. You'll probably see Anthony Lee (#3) fill up the stat sheet as well; he averages 13.9 points a game to go with 9.4 rebounds a game.
Here's the thing, though - Temple is dead last in the AAC in rebounding margin. In fact, they're the only team in the conference that currently has a negative rebounding margin. That - coupled with their lack of defense - has me feeling better about this game than I did about Rutgers. We both know that means nothing at this point, though.
What the 'Cats have to do to win:
- Continue their rebounding dominance. Cincinnati should - I said, should - outrebound Temple by 6-7 boards tonight. As long as they hit the glass like usual, they'll be that much closer to securing a victory.
- Turn Temple over. A bright spot for the Owls is that they're 2nd in the AAC in Assist/Turnover ratio. If the Bearcats can force 14 or more turnovers, they'll be fine.
- Hit Free Throws. On average, Temple's opponents hit more free throws than them each game. If the Bearcats can take advantage of the free throw stripe (like they have all year), again, they'll be fine.
My prediction: Don't let anyone fool you - this current Temple Owl squad isn't very good. They're a bit banged up, and they come into the game having yet to win a game in the AAC. If the Bearcats want to be contender in the AAC, this is a game you have to win. Hope I didn't put the jinx on 'em just yet, but I think UC pulls away late: 'Cats win 72-63.
Oh yeah - and if you live around Cincinnati and haven't checked out this ticket deal, get your head out of the sand. This is easily my favorite ticket promotion I've ever seen - college or pro.