Cincinnati Preview-Capsule

October 24, 2018


Last season: 31-5, reached second round of NCAA Tournament.

Nickname: Bearcats.

Coach: Mick Cronin.

Conference: American Athletic.

Who's gone: Guard Jacob Evans III (NBA), forward Gary Clark, forward Kyle Washington.

Who's back: Junior guard Jarron Cumberland, the top returning scorer at 11.5 points per game, leads a roster that will rely heavily on perimeter play. Senior point guards Cane Broome (7.9 ppg) and Justin Jennifer (4.8) are counted on for leadership and more points. The Bearcats' front line is undergoing a major overhaul as it tries to replace Clark — the Bearcats' best player who averaged 12.9 points and 8.7 rebounds — and Washington, who averaged 11.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. Junior forward Tre Scott (3.1 ppg) is expected to move into a bigger role, along with sophomore Eliel Nsoseme (0.9).

Who's new: Swingman Rashawn Fredericks is expected to contribute right away as a transfer from Motlow State Community College in Tennessee. Freshman forward LaQuill Hardnett averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists at Perry Hall High School in Philadelphia. Freshman guard Logan Johnson averaged 22 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists at St. Francis High School in California. How quickly they learn to fit Cincinnati's defensive schemes will determine how much they play.

The Skinny: Cincinnati had its best team under Cronin, winning the conference and going 15-1 at Northern Kentucky University while its on-campus arena was renovated and finishing No. 6 in the AP poll. The Bearcats blew a 22-point lead with 11 minutes left and lost to Nevada in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, matching the second-biggest meltdown in tournament history. They're always a defense-oriented team. Their biggest question is whether they can score enough with Evans — their top scorer — and Clark gone.

Expectations: Las Vegas oddsmakers give Cincinnati an 85-1 shot at winning the NCAA Tournament, the same as Ohio State — the opponent that opens their renovated arena on Nov. 7. They and Wichita State are expected to compete for the AAC title again.