So, BG has a big assignment coming up Sunday, as they head to UC to take on the very tough UC Bearcats. The Bearcats are 6-1 and ranked #25 in kenpom. Furthermore, they are coming off a very big road win @Iowa State on Thursday...the Cyclones had won thirty-something straight non-conference games at home.
They were 22-11 last year, lost to UConn in their conference tournament in 4OT and then lost to St. Joe's in the first round of the Big Dance, which they have been in six years in a row. They beat Bowling Green by 33 last year at the Stroh as part of the Bill Frack Challenge.
They returned a lot from that team and were picked to win the ACC this year. In addition, Troy Caupian, a G, is a co-AAC preseason player of the year and Gary Clark returns as defensive player of the year...and they have a flashy newcomer, see below.
This a very good program. First, on tempo, they play very slooooooooooow. Their only game over 70 possessions this year was Lipscomb. Their win over Iowa State was played at 63 possessions, which is very slow. They are very good on both ends of the floor. They are the #8 defensive team in the country based on Kenpom rankings and the #52 offense. As you can see, they regularly outscore and outdefend where BG ends up. (Note, not conference only, forgot to take that off the chart).
How do you get that kind of disparity? Well, BG 307th in EFG% and UC is #27 in EFG% defense. That's a bad combination. Plus, the Bearcats are above average at forcing turnovers and are #8 in the country in not allowing FTs. This is a tough team to score against playing a team that has struggled to score.
Flipping the elements around, we can see why UC is effective on offense. This is a team that is not interesting in the 3FG. They don't take many 3s and are bad at making them. However, they make 55% of their 2 FGs and are #17 in the nation in the # of points they have coming from 2FGs. They take average care of the ball, but are very good on the offensive boards (#17 in the country...see their size below). And they get to the line a decent amount and they are an average FT shooting team. This is much different than the teams BG has been playing, and the Falcons will need improved defense on the interior to keep this game close.
Actually, Caupian is not one of UC;s leading scorers so far this year. The team's leading scorer is 6'6" SO Jacob Evans, who is scoring 16.9 PPG on 55% and 42% shooting to go with 4.4 rebounds per game. NC State transfer Kyle Washington is also a beast, scoring 16.3 PPG on 55% shooting with 9.4 RPG...he's 6'9" and will be a handful for BG. Caupian is only scoring 9.1...he is really struggling to shoot. He is at 35% and 23% after shooting 38% and 32% last year. He is contributing 4.5 assists per game and has a better than 2:1 A/T ratio.
The Bearcats play a tight rotation mostly consisting of 8 guys. They are tall and have a lot of long guys to go inside with.
One possible thing working in BG's favor is that UC played @ Iowa State on Thursday and their next game is at Butler, so they might not have their minds completely on BG on Sunday. Even having said that, they are the best team on BG's schedule and a very strong favorite in this game.
I was at the BG-UC rugby game and someone asked me what a Bearcat was. I told the person that they had made it up...which turns out actually to be true. The origin of the name--and the fact that another college has now COPIED it--is pretty interesting.