Cincinnati Bearcats vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Pick & Prediction MARCH 12th 2024

Cincinnati has hopes of hosting an NIT game as it heads into the first round of the Big 12 tournament against West Virginia on Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo.

The Mountaineers know their season is done unless they win five games in five days to claim the tournament title.

The game is an instant rematch, as the Bearcats hammered West Virginia 92-56 in the regular-season finale on Saturday. Dan Skillings Jr. scored 17 points as Cincinnati shot 59 percent from the floor.

The Bearcats (18-13) enter the tournament as the 11th seed. Of course, they can reach the NCAA Tournament if they pull that five-wins-in-five-days rabbit out of their collective hats, and it hasn’t been that long since they were on the bubble, but the NIT seems more likely.

The Bearcats still think they have a shot at an NCAA at-large berth, but they need a deep run in Kansas City to be considered. Head coach Wes Miller is not looking ahead.

“I don’t know that I’ve had an experience of playing a team, then playing them three days later in the conference tournament,” he said. “They beat us already this year, so it’s not as if just because it got away from them (Saturday) that we think we’ve arrived or something. We understand how good we’re going to have to play on a neutral floor.”

They can take inspiration from their most recent victory. They held WVU center Jesse Edwards to eight points and four rebounds after he came into the game averaging 15.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. They also did a good job on leading scorer RaeQuan Battle (16.2 ppg), limiting him to just nine points. None of the five starters scored in double figures.

It’s been a rough season for WVU interim head coach Josh Eilert, who took over when Bob Huggins was fired in June. The Mountaineers have lost their last five games, including Saturday against the Bearcats. WVU trailed 36-29 at halftime, but nothing worked in the second half. Eilert used all his timeouts with 10 minutes to go, but that didn’t work either.

“I thought we played fairly well in the first half, down 14 before cutting it to seven,” Eilert said. “There were a lot of positives there you could hang your hat on. We have the ball coming out of the half and start to make a run, but nothing went our way.”

That pretty much sums up the season for West Virginia.

–Field Level Media

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