DePaul opens Big East play tonight at 6 p.m. CT at Cincinnati. The Bearcats come into the game undefeated at 12-0, but still aren't ranked. I asked Scott over at Cincinnati blog Bearcats Blog to help answer a few questions about the team. Also, for a quick run down around the entire Big East check out his Big East primer.
Q&A with Bearcats Blog about Cincinnati
CCB - Cincinnati is one of eight undefeated teams left in college basketball. Did you expect to be here when the season started?
BB - To be honest, yes. The non-conference schedule is one of the worst in the country. Cincinnati had/has only three challenging games on it, Dayton, Oklahoma, and Xavier. As most of your readers know, Dayton and Oklahoma aren't enjoying good seasons. I thought UC had to go through the non-conference season with only one loss at most if they wanted a chance to get an at large bid. Now, that one loss would be a little disappointing since Xavier isn't having a great year, and the game is in the Shoe.
CCB - Have your expectations changed from the beginning of the season? Where do you see the Bearcats playing in the postseason?
BB - My expectations have changed, because I'm a homer. Something clicked for this team after the Dayton blowout. They move the ball well, they have shooters, they have a guy who can score in the post, and they play solid defense. It's unlike the team last season, in that they move the ball well, and they don't defer to one guy down the stretch.
CCB - It seems like Cincinnati has really played great defense to start the season, tell us a little about how the team locks down opponents.
BB - The team is an athletic bunch. They have also been very aggressive. Granted, some of the teams they have played didn't know what to do with pressure defense, and some of them were just bad, but the Bearcats didn't give up easy shots. They get a lot of steals, and keep opponents off the glass. Plus, they have multiple guys who can guard multiple positions. Cashmere Wright, Larry Davis, Sean Kilpatrick, and Dion Dixon can guard both guard spots, Rashad Bishop can guard four positions, Ibrahima Thomas and Yancy Gates are good interior defenders.
CCB - I considered Yancy Gates for my All-Big East Non-Conference teams is there someone I missed? Who is making Cincinnati's attack go?
BB - Gates has been a big part of the Cincinnati success so far, but I think the biggest thing has been the guard play. Cashmere Wright has been the player that he was hyped to be out of high school. He's getting everyone involved, getting to the rim, and making threes. Sean Kilpatrick has been the microwave off the bench, and has three 20 point games on the season. The man has been Dion Dixon, who is a Chicago boy. He's the leading scorer for the Bearcats. He's not afraid to go to the rim, he has really improved his outside shot, and when the offense isn't going, he takes over. Dixon got herky jerky minutes last season behind [the departed Deonta] Vaughn and [Lance] Stephenson, and he's taken his opportunity and run with it.
CCB - Finally, what are your expectations for this first conference game?
BB - I have gone from really confident to not knowing what to expect. It's Big East basketball, where whatever you expect doesn't happen, and the craziest scenario normally does. The last time I was confident Cincinnati would beat DePaul was the Big East tournament a couple years ago. That didn't turn out well. I think both teams will be ready, and it'll be a lot of fun. I do expect Cincinnati to win though.
A big thanks to Scott. Here's hoping for a great game. You can catch it on ESPN3.