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NCAA Basketball Big East BasketballCincinnati BearcatsRutgers Scarlet Knights

No. 20 Cincinnati Hosts Reeling Rutgers in Big East Showdown

Josh Holmberg-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats, coming off a tough loss to Syracuse, host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a must-win game for the visitor.

Rutgers has dropped four of their last five Big East games after a 2-0 start. Their offense has fallen on some hard times of late–during their current three-game losing streak, they’re averaging only 60 points per game, eight less than their season average. Leading scorer Eli Carter has been almost nonexistent over the last two losses–he’s 6-of-28 shooting and has averaged only nine points per game.

To call this a must win for Rutgers is an understatement–their next two games are at home against No. 12 Louisville and Georgetown. At 3-5, a loss tonight and they’ll be staring down the barrel of a possible 3-8 league mark.

Cincinnati comes home after losing a heart-breaker to No. 3 Syracuse, 55-53, thanks to blowing a 6-point lead over the final 3:47. The Bearcats’ four losses this year have come by a combined 10 points. They’re in every game thanks to two things–junior guard Sean Kilpatrick and their ability to rebound the basketball. Kilpatrick leads the offense with 18.4 points per game, good for 4th in the Big East.

As far as rebounding, there aren’t many teams better than the Bearcats–they pull down over 42 rebounds per game, tied for second in the NCAA, behind Maryland. Titus Rubles leads the charge with 6.1 rebounds per game while Kilpatrick grabs 5.4 of his own. Rutgers’ leading rebounding duo of Dane Miller and Wally Judge are  going to have their hands full with the bigger Bearcats lineup.

The Scarlet Knights must avoid turning this into the Sean Kilpatrick show, something Marquette couldn’t do when he dropped 36 on them two games ago.

Cincinnati should dominate in this one despite losing three of their last four at “The Shoe”.