The Cincinnati Bearcats (18-4 6-3) finish a string of five road contests in their last seven games with a trip to Providence to take on a Friars team finally getting healthy and rounding into form.
There isn't much use in analyzing the season statistics for providence as they battled through a ton of injuries and have only had three guys in their nine man rotation see action in every game. What you can count on, especially at the Dunkin Doughnuts Center, is a lot of points from the home team.
In their last home game the Friars fell to UConn 82-79, but they were able to bounce back with a win in Philly over Villanova on Sunday.
The marquee match up will clearly be a pair of high scoring junior guards in Bryce Cotton and Sean Kilpatrick. Cotton leads the Big East in scoring 21.4 ppg while Kilpatrick isn't far behind in 3rd at 18.5 a night.Much like the Cincinnati star, Cotton is ready to fire away from long distance at any time with the ability to connect from anywhere. He leads the Big East in attempts at 3.5 a night from three, and is 8th in accuracy at 40.9%. He has to be tagged at all times, and because of that other options can get free even if Cotton isn't filling it up.
While Cotton and Kilpatrick match up pretty evenly, the biggest problem for the Cincinnati defense to solve very well could be 6-9 junior forward Kadeem Batts. On a roster without a true center it is often Batts that plays the “5” spot and while he isn't a threat from the perimeter he is mobile anough out on the floor to put pressure on a more traditional option at the 5 spot. He is second on the team in scoring at 13.8 a night and also #2 on the glass with 7 boards per. More importantly he is a constant at the free throw line with 115 attempts in 22 games, and foul trouble in the post could very well be an issue in this one.
In the second of three very interesting match ups on the perimeter it will be Cincinnati senior JaQuon Parker against Providence sophomore LaDontae Henton. Parker and his reputation for toughness will be put to the test as Henton can score at 13.7 per and is also one of the best rebounders in the Big East grabbing 8.0 a game. At 6-6 and 215 pounds Henton is a force going towards the rim and his versatility is a serious problem on both ends of the floor.
Hard to believe I'm putting this so far down, but the battle of senior guards Cashmere Wright and Vincent Council is worth of top billing in a lot of games. While Council is still working through some rust after missing the first 10 games with an injury, it is hard to deny his talent. Against UConn last week he recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists and he is starting to settle in to the role of facilitator on a team with numerous offensive weapons.
6-5 freshman Josh Fortune is the usual 5th starter and comes in at 7 ppf and 3 rpg on the season. He is one of the Friars better defenders, but it will be interesting to see how Cincinnati matches up on Furtune with either Parker or the Justin Jackson/Titus Rubles duo at the 4. If they want to go with some length on Henton to try and keep him off the glass it could be Parker here instead of the match up above.
Another Friar starting to figure it out after early injury issues is 5 star freshman Kris Dunn. It has been a bit of a struggle for the top rated PG in the 2012 class, but he is still managing 6.2 ppg after missing the first 9 games of the season. He relies on a quick first step to get in the lane has a big time crossover in his arsenal to create space. At this point he is still highly prone to turnovers and bad shots, so putting pressure on him can be beneficial.
Forwards Lee Goldsbrough and Brice Kofane join guard Ted Bancroft in rounding out the rotation. None of the three are a threat on the offensive end, but they all are willing to hit the glass and defend in the limited action they get.
On the defensive end what really stands out for Providence is the ability to guard the three ball. They are 10th in the nation at 3 point defense at 28.6% and that is certainly a concern for a Cincinnati offense that relies heavily on the perimeter shot to kick start the offense.
They aren't nearly as effective defending the paint with no real low post presence, so it will be interesting to see if the Bearcats focus heavily on attacking the rim, and exposing the mostly 6 man rotation with foul trouble.