Scouting the Bearcats.
Scipio Tex had a nice scouting report of what to expect when you're expecting to play the Bearcats. And if you're expecting to be in Laos to pick up a new pet. Just please don't call it bingbong.
To further your knowledge, here's a quick look at how the two teams profile looking at some arbitrary statistics.
Texas Strength vs. Cincinnati Strength
Drawing Fouls vs. Not Committing Fouls - Texas relies heavily on getting to the foul line. Its FTA/FGA of 43.1 is 26th in the nation. The leader in the clubhouse is Myck Kabongo, who at one point was leading the nation in FT rate (averaging a free throw per field goal attempt). Conversely, Cincinnati plays tenacious defense without fouling, with a free throw rate of 25.6 that is 8th best in the nation. Kabongo will have his hands full trying to drive on Cashmere Wright, a heady junior point guard who can use his experience. This is a battle that Texas needs to win.
Big 12 Strength of Schedule vs. Big East Strength of Schedule - While both teams played relatively weak non-conference schedules, they've been battle tested down the stretch. Texas faced off against five Big 12 opponents in Ken Pomeroy's top 30. The Longhorns went just 3-9 against those teams, though six games were lost by six points or less. Cincinnati had only 8 such games, but went 6-2, including two Big East Tournament wins against Georgetown and Syracuse before falling to Louisville in the championship.
Texas Strength vs. Cincinnati Weakness
2-Pt Field Goal Defense vs. 2-Pt Shooting - The Longhorns have been quietly good at limiting opponents on 2-point shots. At just 44.2% on the year, that's 44th best in the nation. Cincinnati ain't no Ricardo Ratliffe (Missouri) on the interior, as the Bearcats are hitting just 45.5%. Yancy Gates is a primary culprit, as his 47.3% 2-Pt FG% is nowhere near Ratliffe's ~70% stratosphere. However, the Bearcats are an excellent 3-point shooting team. Think Iowa State: if Cincinnati can rain 3's, it will be a long afternoon.
Offensive Rebounding vs. Defensive Prevention - Despite its size disadvantages this year, the Longhorns have been really good at generating offensive rebounds, with an O-Reb% of 38.4 (16th). They'll miss Alexis Wangmene's contributions, but Clint Chapman, Jonathan Holmes, and Jaylen Bond have all grabbed greater than 10% of offensive rebound opportunities. The Bearcats really only play two big men, starter Gates and backup Justin Jackson. Consequently, they're not very good at boxing out, allowing 34.7% of available rebounds to go back to the opponent. You probably saw some of Texas' offensive rebounding skills at work against Missouri; expect a similar diet on Friday.
Texas Weakness vs. Cincinnati Strength
Defensive Prevention vs. Offensive Rebounding - Would it surprise you to know that Texas profiles the same as Cincinnati above? Both the Longhorns and Bearcats focus on offensive rebounding, but simply don't have the size inside to be a plus defensive rebounding team. The Bearcats, at 36.0% (39th) O-Reb%, aren't as good as Texas, but were also missing Gates (11.4 O-Reb%, 187th) for a few games due to suspension. Texas, like Cincy, sucks at boarding. The O-Reb% the Longhorns give up on defense is 34.0%, 249th in the nation, about as bad as the Bearcats. Whoever wins this battle on both ends may well end up the victor.
Shooting vs. Defensive Percentages - You know it. I know it. We all know it. Texas is a horrendously bad shooting team. Its eFG% is 48.7 (181st), while Cincinnati's defensive eFG% is 46.1% (50th). J'Covan Brown is a volume shooter (49.1 eFG%), a depressed volume because none of his teammates can really shoot it either. The Longhorns are bad from 2 but worse from 3, while Cincinnati is decent at preventing both. If there's anywhere for Texas to attack, it may be at the 4, where Cincinnati starts 6'3" Jeremiah Davis. A big game from Holmes would be superb.
Texas Weakness vs. Cincinnati Weakness
Texas Fouling vs. Cincinnati Free Throw Shooting - Texas loves to foul. How often have we seen Chapman sent to the bench early? The Longhorns allow 41.9 FTA/FGA, good for 280th in the nation. Cincinnati tends to avoid fouls (FTA/FGA of 29.4, 321st), and isn't particularly good at shooting them when it gets to the line. The Bearcats are hitting 64.1% from the charity stripe, and only Sean Kilpatrick is above 70% on the year. Hack-a-cat? Well, maybe not. Texas only goes seven deep, after all.
Tempo vs. Tempo - Both teams like to play slow, and it's more by stagnation than by choice. Texas' offense looks better when Kabongo takes the ball and goes off to the races, but it just doesn't happen all that much. I imagine the limitations are similar for Cincinnati. Texas' pace of 66.0 is 172nd in the nation, while Cincy plays even more glacially at 63.7 (281st).
Taken all together, I'm expecting a slow, hard fought, brutal looking game. There should be a lot of 35 second posessions, offensive rebounds, and clankers to go around. The individual matchups, though, greatly interest me. Texas' 3-guard lineup starting against Cincy's 4-guard one. Scoring fiends Brown and Kilpatrick going toe to toe. The youth of Kabongo against the headiness of Wright. Chapman's finesse game vs. Gates' brute strength. And on and on...should be a good one, folks.