National Marquette Day is on Saturday, and with it brings a game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats come into the game on a two game winning streak with an overall record of 17-7 and a Big East record of 7-4.
The Bearcats had a tumultuous ride through their non-conference schedule this season. First there was the loss to Presbyterian (currently 11-13 and #241 in the KenPom rankings) and that was followed 6 days later by an overtime loss to Marshall (currently 14-10 and 5-5 in Conference USA). Both of these losses came at home and made an already soft non-conference schedule even worse.
And then there was the Crosstown Brawl.
The feature player in the brawl brings us to our first note, so with a tip of the hat to StatSheet.com, let's get to it...
1) Yancy Gates can be taken out of the game. I'm not just referring to his 6 game suspension for his role in the brawl. Before the suspension, Gates was averaging 34.4 minutes per game and didn't accrue more than 3 fouls in any of the 8 games. Since the suspension, Gates is averaging 28.8 minutes per game and has picked up at least 4 fouls in four of Cincinnati's 10 games, including each of the last two and fouling out in their four point win over Villanova. When he's not in foul trouble, he can be a dominant force with 3 double-doubles in Big East play, all in games when he wasn't in foul trouble. But even when he's having a major impact on the game, it might not be in Cincinnati's best interest: Two of those double-doubles came in losses: 77-74 at West Virginia and 60-53 at home to a Syracuse team without Fab Melo.
2) Their offensive efficiency tells the tale. In Big East play, Cincinnati has dipped below 1.0 points per possession just three times: vs St. John's, vs Syracuse, and at Rutgers. All three ended up in losses. Their fourth loss came in overtime to West Virginia, where WVU won the points per possession battle, 1.07 to 1.03. The Mountaineers also did a better job than the Bearcats at holding onto the ball, which brings us to our last item...
3) They're not going to turn the ball over. There are only 12 teams in the country better than Cincinnati when it comes to turnover percentage. The Bearcats only cough up the ball on 16.5% of possessions. To give you a comparison, Marquette is 68th in the country in turnover percentage at 18.5%.