One of the featured games of Christmas week basketball will be this Thursday, 27 December when the Cincinnati Bearcats host the New Mexico Lobos at 9PM EST. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.
The Bearcats haven't lost this season and are now sitting pretty at 12-0. The Lobos are coming their first loss of the season against South Dakota State and are 12-1.
Coming off a rare home loss at the Pit to South Dakota State, and travelling to Cincinnati, advantage should go to the Bearcats who are unbeaten. New Mexico, however, has played well enough on the road. New Mexico will want seek to take advantage of its size inside will attempt to get to the freethrow line. Both teams this season are exceeding expectation. Cincinnati will attack and try to get the Lobos into a run and gun game. New Mexico has the ability to shoot from the outside if the Bearcats go to a zone defense. Cincinnati struggles in the half-court offense but excels in the open court. New Mexico is the opposite. Cincinnati was unhappy that New Mexico's only date to visit was two days after Christmas which forces the Bearcats to practice on Christmas. The featured matchup is Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick against New Mexico's Kendall Williams. New Mexico is 3-0 against the spread on the road this season and Cincinnati is 2-3 at home against the spread. Line will be Cincy with 7-10 point advantage.
Led by Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati is one of the top rebounding teams in the country averaging over 46 boards a contest. They are also in the top 20 in scoring and close to the top 25 in total defense allowing only 57.7 points per game. Their wins against Iowa State, Oregon, Alabama, and Xavier are notable. THe only team able to hang with the Bearcats this season was Alabama (58-56) needing PG Cashmere Wright to make a buzzer beater to win the game.
Sean Kilpatrick (G-F): Averaging over 19PPG and is the Bearcats leading rebounder.
Cashmere Wright: Averaging 14 PPG including 36% from beyond the arc,
JaQuon Parker: 12PPG- not a great shooter, but important all-around performer
Cheikh Mbodj: Gets in foul trouble, but big presence and shoots a good percentage
Jeremiah Davis III
Statistically not impressive, but at 12-1 with wins over UConn, Ill-Chicago, George Mason and road wins at Indiana St and New Mexico St, they have played above expectation. Have played a slightly tougher schedule, overall, than Cincinnati. Good freethrow shooting team. 7 shoot from beyond the arc.
New Mexico players:
Kendall Willams: Energetic guard who shoots, can get to the rim and dishes better than most 15PPG, 5APG
Tony Snell: Big guard who is the team's best shooter but has struggled. He can handle the ball also
Alex Kirk: 7-foot center who prefers to shoot from beyond freethrow line, 8RPG, 1 BPG,
Hugh Greenwood: Australian PG, great ball handler, shoots, excellent rebounder
Cameron Bairstow: Another Aussie, big presence, shoots high percentage, scrappy