Cincinnati – The Cincinnati Bearcats (14-8, 5-4) take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (5-15, 1-8) at home on Wednesday night.
Tulsa is the worst team in the AAC and should be a great place to bounce back after Cincinnati blew an 11-point lead in the second half against Houston on Sunday. UCLA lost their final meeting in this series 83-77, one of only three losses for Tulsa since joining the AAC.
The Bearcats entered the game ranked 65th in KenPom, while Tulsa ranked 251st.
ESPN’s match prediction gives Cincinnati a 95.6% chance of winning the game.
Let’s dive into a preview of the 46th meeting of these teams.
There is always next year
Saturday’s loss solidified one thing about the 2022 UCLA basketball season: They’re not cracking the NCAA tournament as a senior team.
Team rankings currently give UCLA a 0% chance of making the field through this route.
Zero Quad 1 win in the past calendar year would leave the program in that spot, as UCLA has only 1 Q1/Q2 win this season. That came on the road against Wichita State, who weren’t exactly the shock of the last decade.
Since the start of Wes Miller’s tenure, UC has been a combined 4-17 in Q1/Q2 games.
On Saturday she showed signs of life. UC outplayed a top three team by 30 minutes, and as I’ve pointed out all season, they just didn’t have enough talent to finish.
“We’re getting better. Everyone needs to stay with us,” Miller said after the 75-69 loss. This will be a good basketball team in the long run.”
All Bearcats fans can do is be patient — this probably won’t be the leap year some hopeful viewers were hoping for. However, players such as Landers Nolley II and Viktor Lakhin made huge leaps.
Real freshmen get valuable experience, too. The building blocks are in place, and something may be built in 2024 – should UCLA move another influence while retaining top talent, Noli.
Hope is there, but this is the best basketball conference in the country. Nine of the ten teams in the league are ranked inside KenPom’s top 38. There won’t be any conference opponents like Tulsa next season.
the outer barrage
The best way Tulsa can muster an upset on Wednesday is by shutting down UCLA’s solid three-point shooting this season. The Bearcats are 75th nationally in three-point percentage (36.1%) and 50th in three-point attempts this season.
The Golden Hurricane enters the game allowing teams to shoot just 29.9% depth and 133rd-ranked per game (15.1),
Cincinnati’s offense thrives on ball movement, streaky shooting to open up the inside hack with Lakhen and guards. The first guy on the tag is Landers Nolley II.
He has turned into UC’s MVP and a talent they should be claiming to keep for another season if possible. Nolli just earned his third consecutive AAC Honor Roll with 24 points against Houston on 6-of-10 outside shooting.
Nolli’s 45.5% of his three-point shooting leads the AAC and ranks 10th nationally. He also has a 50.8% playing percentage in the league, with three 20-point games over his last five games. At 6-foot-7, Noli is the tallest player among the top 10 nationals, and it’s hard not to feel his presence on the outside.
His use of wing moves should continue to show Wednesday as the smaller Tulsa backcourt tackles the star tweener.
Tulsa is the worst team in the AAC, having won just one game since December 21st.
Two players stand out on this team, and only one could be the key to the skeleton of Tulsa’s win: Bryant Silibango (13.0 pts, 9.3 pts, 0.8 ast).
The bruising 6-foot-9 forward might cause UC’s lack of front court a few problems. He is the 33rd leading wrestler in the country and is one of the most proficient shooters in America as well.
Selebangue ranks seventh in FG percentage (65.45%). He does all his damage near the edge and is a very disciplined defender (1.5 fouls per match).
Lachen getting the Canadian out of his sweet spots would ensure UCSD won. Four of Tulsa’s five wins have come in games where he shoots 57% or better. You’d think his efficiency would secure him a top rank, but that’s for guard Sam Griffin (15.8 Points, 2.9 Reb, 2.3 Ast).
The 6-foot-3 little guy likes to take a triple, and the Bearcats should let him shoot away. He’s shooting just 38.6% from the field this season and 31.1% from depths on 8.4 cartridges per game.
Tulsa enters the game averaging 38 three-point attempts in the country. UC will roll if they force Tulsa to continue shooting three times and force the ball away from Selebangue.
Fans can watch the game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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