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Revisiting Preseason Predictions

Before we review and give final marks to each player, let's go back and take a look at how well DTD forecasted the 2015-16 campaign.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

It has been more than a month since Kris Jenkins drained a game-winning 3-pointer to finish off a spectacular NCAA Tournament, which happened just weeks after Cincinnati lost in the most heart-ripped-out-of-your-chest way imaginable in the opening round. I apologize for bringing up that brutal moment. To this day, I still hope that Octavius Ellis will get the ball in the hoop in time to force an extra period.

But, let's not dwell on the past. Scratch that, let's do that exclusively. Before the season started, I wrote down seven predictions for the upcoming season. Its high time I sit down, see how I did and face the proverbial music.

1. Octavius Ellis will win American Athletic Conference Player of the Year

Whiffed pretty hard on this one. Expecting a leap from the player who put up 9.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game wasn't the craziest idea I've ever had, but it sure looks bad in retrospect. Ellis did move up a bit in rebounding (7.5 RPG), but was largely the same player he was as a junior, averaging 9.8 points and 1.5 blocks a contest. To be fair, he also played less in 2016 than he did in 2015, averaging 28.7 minutes per game as a junior, with the number falling to 25.3 in his last go around. However, that doesn't make up for the fact that he was less effective offensively, putting up a true shooting percentage of .568 and an effective field goal percentage of .524. Those are solid numbers but fall short of the .631 and .579 he recorded as a junior.

Gary Clark and Troy Caupain ended up being the MVPs I penciled Ellis in as, with Caupain earning first-team all-conference honors and Clark making it onto the second team. Ellis was a very good player for the Bearcats, he just didn't live up to my lofty (and possibly unfair) expectations.

Verdict - Wrong.

2. Shaq Thomas will realize his full potential

There's no real way to measure potential, but despite the vague nature of this prediction, I think we can safely agree that Thomas did not hit his ceiling. The 6-foot-7 forward had his play time slashed, as he did not reach 700 minutes for the first time since his freshman season. A lot of that had to do with the ascension of Jacob Evans, who stole Thomas' crunch time minutes and eventually his starting role. In his defense, Thomas posted the highest PER of his career (14.9) and showed a bit more offensively, with an offensive rating of 103.1. Like Ellis, Thomas was fine, but he just didn't take the step forward I thought he was ready for as a senior.

Verdict - Wrong.

3. Cincinnati will score 70 points per game

In the NCAA's first season with a shortened shot clock, scoring was generally up across the board. The era of pace and space is here to stay and Cincinnati reserved its seat on that bandwagon. A larger reliance on shooting from 3-point range elevated the impact of players like Farad Cobb and led the Bearcats to let loose with 725 attempts from long range. It was the most they had attempted since 2013 (when Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright and Jaquon Parker each took at least 100 shots from beyond the arc) and looks gigantic compared to the 507 from last year.

More threes and more possessions due to the shortened shot clock led Cincinnati to its most productive offensive campaign of the Mick Cronin era. The Bearcats scored 73.3 points per game, its highest mark since 2006, the year before Cronin took over. Sure, there were some 50-point fist fights along the way (thanks, UConn), but UC was a different team offensively.

Verdict - Nailed it.

4. The Crosstown Shootout will go to the Bearcats

Alas. Despite Cincinnati's immense returning talent, UC fell far short of the hated Xavier Musketeers, losing 65-55 in the Crosstown Shootout while watching the X reach amazing heights in the national rankings en route to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. UC has now lost three straight and seven of its last nine against Xavier. Puke city, population Bearcats.

Verdict - Wrong.

5. Quadri Moore will play more than 500 minutes

Loyal followers of #QuadriMooreMinutesWatch already know that Moore came up incredibly short of this milestone. I assumed Cronin would be slow to utilize Evans and that Coreontae DeBerry would not be leaned on as heavily. That would have opened up some playing time for Moore, but didn't end up happening. Evans worked his way into a critical role and DeBerry played 125 more minutes than he had the year before, primarily due to his improved rebounding and shot blocking acumen. In all, Moore played in 190 minutes across 26 games, falling short of his 2014-15 total. With Kyle Washington and Tre Scott both ready to be active members in 2016-17, Moore will probably remain a rarely used commodity.

Verdict - Wrong.

6. Troy Caupain, Farad Cobb, Ellis, Thomas and Gary Clark will be the starting five

Evaluating this prediction comes down to how you measure it. If you want the last starting lineup the team used, then this prediction is wrong. Jacob Evans started the Bearcats' last game against Saint Joseph's and was a mainstay in the lineup during the last month or so of the season. However, Evans only started eight games all season. The leaders in overall games started were as follows: Caupain (33), Ellis (32), Clark (32), Cobb (31)  and...Thomas (25). So, we're going to chalk this one up as a win.

Verdict - You are correct, sir.

7. Cincinnati will win the American Athletic Conference

This prediction and the actual results best sum up this season for UC. The Bearcats had a ton of expectations on their shoulders entering the campaign and they didn't totally fail to live up to them. However, much like far too many games this season in which they fell flat by just a few inches (or seconds), the Bearcats just couldn't take that next step forward. We were expecting a Sweet 16 team and we got another NCAA Tournament bid and an early exit. We were expecting a conference title and we got a team that lost in a four overtime marathon against UConn in the AAC tourney. In another world, I like to imagine Ellis' dunk went through in time and UC finished off the wins they should have had against Butler, Iowa State, Temple (twice), SMU, Memphis and Tulsa. Unfortunately, until we can find our own Bifrost, we have to settle for another strong, yet unexceptional year.

Verdict - Wrong.