Cincinnati to meet San Francisco in NIT

After failing to make the NCAA Tournament for a fifth consecutive season, the Bearcats (20-14) accepted a bid to the NIT as a two seed.

Cincinnati will take on San Francisco (23-10, 11-5) out of the West Coast Conference Wednesday March 20th in a 9 pm tip off inside Fifth Third Arena.

First round games for the NIT are Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by second round games on Saturday and Sunday. The quarterfinal games are March 26-27, with the Final Four in Indianapolis running April 2-4.

San Francisco by the numbers:

-The Dons finished the regular season with a 1-10 record against Quad 1 and Quad 2 teams in the NET ratings, but were 21-0 against Quad 3 and 4 teams.

-San Francisco finished 39th in adjusted defense and 97th in Kenpom's adjusted offense. 

- SF ranks 20th in effective field goal percentage (55%), 38th in free throw percentage (76.3%), 11th in two-point percentage (57.2%), and 19th in overall shooting percentage (48.2%).

- SF averages eight makes per game on 24 attempts from deep and 10 free throws per game on 14 attempts.

- SF ranks 15th nationally in defensive rebound percentage, pulling down 78.4 percent of their opponent's misses.

 Wes Miller on the challenges San Francisco presents:

Players to Watch:

6-foot-8 junior forward Jonathan Mogbo leads the Dons, averaging 14.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg. Mogbo is coming off a 10 point, 9 rebound, 5 assist game in a semi final loss to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament. Mogbo is 8th nationally in field goal percentage (64.9%) and has recorded fifteen double-doubles this season. His best game was a 30 point, 18 rebound performance against Pacific.

6-foot-2 junior guard Marcus Williams started in 25-of-27 games during his sophomore season at Texas A&M and is averaging 14 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.0 rpg this season at San Francisco. Williams is respectable from deep (34%) and is extremely efficient inside the arc, making 46.1 percent of his shot attempts. He scored 17 in the semi final loss to Gonzaga and had 26 points in a 70-66 loss at Saint Mary's. 

6-foot-5 junior guard Malik Thomas spent his first two seasons at Southern Cal and has averaged 11.5 ppg this season in his first year at San Francisco. Thomas makes 47% of his field goal attempts, 38.3% of his three-point attempts, and 86.5 percent of his free throw attempts. Thomas scored 23 and 22 points in his two most recent games against Gonzaga, making 6-of-12 three-point attempts.

6-foot-7 junior forward Ndewedo Newbury is fourth in scoring for San Francisco, averaging 9.3 ppg. The London native is second on team in field goal percent (53.8%) and is leading the team in three-point percentage (41.5%). Newbury scored 22 points twice in games against Pacific this season but struggled with consistency, for the most part, against the top teams in the WCC.

6-foot-8 sophomore guard Mike Sharavjamts is another transfer in the San Francisco rotation. Sharavjamts began his career at Dayton and is averaging 8.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg during his sophomore campaign. A Mongolian native, Sharavjamts is making 42.9% of his field goal attempts, 36.6% from deep, and 84.4% from the free throw line. 

5-foot-11 freshman guard Ryan Beasley rounds out the primary players in San Francisco's rotation. Beasley has struggled with consistency, averaging 7.8 ppg on 39.5% shooting, but he did score 17 against St Mary's and 14 against Gonzaga in regular season home losses. Beasley shoots 42% from deep at home, but just 25.6% on the road. Keeping Beasley off the free throw line will have to be a priority, as the freshman makes near 86% of his attempts.

Final Thoughts

This is a game Cincinnati should win at home, but San Francisco will be better than some realize at first glance. The Dons have guys with experience across different levels that have proved themselves against high level competition throughout this season. I'm not sure they have the depth to compete for a full 40 minutes, however, and think they probably struggle with Cincinnati's length, athleticism, and physicality.

After a strong showing in the Big 12 Tournament, there's no reason Cincinnati can't win their region and make a run at the semi-finals and finals in Indianapolis at Hinkle Fieldhouse. 


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