Predictions are a lot of fun, but at some point, the piper must be paid. Nailing predictions before a season begins is difficult, but what’s life without a little challenge? With that in mind, I am here to look back at the preseason predictions I made about the 2017-18 Cincinnati Bearcats men’s basketball team and see where I was clairvoyant and where I was simply dumb. Let’s do it.
1. Jacob Evans will average at least 15 points per game and lead the team in scoring
After he put together 13.5 points per game in 2016-17, Evans looked poised to take another leap as a junior. He did, just not necessarily in the scoring department. His improved rebounding and defense (including shot blocking) were keys to his rise to being a first round NBA Draft pick, but it didn’t add to his point total. He still averaged a team-high 13 points per game, so I got this half right, but I don’t deal in half measures.
2. Cane Broome will set a career-high in assists
Broome scored 23.1 points per game in his final season at Sacred Heart before transferring to UC. He only netted 7.9 as a Bearcat, which I did not expect. What I did foresee was an uptick in assists for Broome as he was surrounded by a better roster of scoring options and was going to be asked to run the point. While he averaged 2.8 assists per game (compared to 2.9 in 2015-16), Broome had 95 dimes total, which was seven more than he had in 2015-16 when he played nearly twice as many minutes. His assist percentage also jumped to 26.2 compared to 17.8, so we’re counting this as a win.
3. Keith Williams will play more minutes than any other freshman
This seemed like a lock early on. In the first two months of the season, Williams averaged 12.8 minutes per game, including a stretch of seven-straight games with at least 10 minutes to open the year. He only played 7.7 minutes per game after that as fellow freshman Trevor Moore rose on the depth chart. In the end, Moore played 419 minutes and Williams got 326, finishing second in this category.
4. Nysier Brooks will play at least 13 minutes per game
Speaking of minutes, more playing time seemed like a lock for Brooks after he worked his way into the rotation more and more during the 2016-17 season. However, Trevon Scott was the first big man off the bench most often, as he played 12.5 minutes per game, which was nearly three more than Brooks (9.7). Both players are going to get a big helping of play time next year now that Gary Clark and Kyle Washington are gone, but this past year, Brooks did not meet my projection.
5. At least one Bearcat will be on the American Athletic Conference first team
Both Clark and Evans made the first team, with Clark actually being named the conference’s player of the year. Nailed it.
6. UC will win the American Athletic Conference
After years of picking the Bearcats to win the AAC, they finally did it. Plus, there is no loophole stuff going on here. UC won the regular season title, going 16-2 in conference play, and then followed that up with a thrilling run to the league tournament crown. The two games that sealed those titles were each won by a single point, with a March 4 triumph over Wichita State (62-61) and a March 11 besting of Houston (56-55). But it doesn’t matter if the margin of victory was one or 6,000, they won and that’s what matters.
7. ...and make the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament
I’m pretty sure they cancelled the NCAA Tournament this year. I don’t even remember it happening. The Bearcats definitely didn’t squander a 22-point lead and lose in the second round. Nope. Couldn’t be them.
8. One Bearcat will be a second round pick in the NBA Draft
There’s a reason this post is going up today. I wanted to wait until the draft ended to really close the book on the season. While I predicted a second round selection for at least one Bearcat, I also thought Evans was coming back for his senior season. Instead, he was selected 28th overall by the Golden State Warriors and was the only Bearcat drafted this year and the first since 2010.
By my count, I got about four correct. That’s 50 percent. Not too bad. I’m a MLB Hall of Famer and a fairly good shooter in the NBA. We’ll be back next year to do this all over again.