After multiple delays, the 2020-21 college basketball season tips off on December 2nd against the Lipscomb Bisons in Fifth-Third Arena at 5:00 pm EST. The Bisons are coming off a rather mediocre 2019-20 campaign finishing 16-16. Lipscomb is 1-1 so far with a 76-73 win over Lamar (kenpom #264) and a 68-66 loss to Tulane (kenpom #219).
Lipscomb (kenpom #177) is only two years removed from a 29-8 run where they were A-Sun regular season champs and runner-up in the NIT tournament. This is a much better tune-up game than some of the sub-300 kenpom teams (like Cal St. Fullerton) the Bearcats would play in the past.
The Bisons return their leading scorer from last season in Ahsan Asadullah. The 6’8” 265 lb junior averaged 18.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists last season. The Bearcats will use their length down low with Chris Vogt, Rapolas Ivanauskas, and Mamoudou Diarra to make things difficult for Asadullah. Greg Jones is their deep ball threat and has converted 8/16 from behind the arc in the Bisons’ two contests. Division II transfer Romeao Ferguson is their leading scorer and best perimeter defender so expect him to go head-to-head against Keith Williams.
However, the Bisons are not the focus of Wednesday night’s game. We all want to know how the Bearcats look without their senior leaders from last season - Jarron Cumberland and Trevon Scott. Although these are big losses, there is a lot of fun in discovering the unknown. Who will the starting five be? Will Keith Williams take up the alpha dog mantle that Jarron left to him? How will veteran transfers David DeJulius and Rapolas Ivanauskas fit in? Will Zach Harvey find his footing and which freshman takes full advantage of his opportunities? How has Chris Vogt elevated his game and has he fully recovered from his torn labrum?
Not all of these questions will be answered in the first game, but if I had to narrow it down, these are three things I want to see:
- Keith Williams and Chris Vogt establish themselves as the dynamic duo for the Bearcats
- DeJulius and/or Ivanauskas have a standout game.
- One of the freshmen emerges early.
I expect the Bearcats to win, but this won’t be a cakewalk. The lead might only be single digits at halftime, but don’t panic. This team is still shaking the rust off and should pull away in the second half.