Bearcat preview

Sean Kilpatrick looks to lead the Bearcats to the top of the American Athletic Conference

Sean Kilpatrick looks to lead the Bearcats to the top of the American Athletic Conference

This year marks the first year of the American Athletic Conference, or as some may call it, what is left of the Big East. The Big East saw some of its top programs leave, some to start a new conference and others to join numerous conferences across the country. What is left is a shell of what the Big East once was, but it also gives the Cincinnati Bearcats a great chance to make a run at the conference title.

Though many of the top teams left, the Louisville Cardinals, defending national champions, are still in the conference. Louisville is returning a lot of talent and are widely favored to win the conference. The UConn Huskies and Memphis Tigers are also picked to finish near the top of the division.

A lot of people are sleeping on the Cats, but I believe they have a very talented roster. They are returning four seniors, one of them being their star player from a year ago, Sean Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick has earned All-Conference honors each of his first three seasons and was selected to the Preseason All-Conference First Team. The Bearcats also have one of the top recruits in the nation, Jermaine Lawrence, bringing his talents to Fifth Third Arena. Lawrence is a 6′ 9” forward from Sparta, New Jersey. He was the 26th ranked player in the nation and is looking to make a big impact this year.

Other players that will make a splash are  seniors Justin Jackson, David Nyarsuk, and Titus Rubles. Jackson is a high energy player who is known for his high jumping and his incredible shot blocking. Nyarsuk is a towering presence in the middle who is mainly in for his rebounding and Rubles is a stretch forward who is an active defender and is all over the floor.

The Bearcats have a fairly easy schedule, so they should finish with an above average record. They have key meetings at Memphis on January 4th and at Louisville on January 30th. If the Bearcats can win all of the games they should, and pull off a couple of in-conference upsets, at season’s end we could be seeing the Bearcats atop the American Athletic Conference standings.