Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Cincinnati

Lineup notes

Quick note: I’m going to wait until the opponent (same goes for Tennessee here) has played at least five games on the season before introducing the KenPom depth charts. Just seems kinda silly at this point to do it.


  • Likely starters are DeJulius, Adams-Woods, Williams, Eason, Vogt.
  • As covered before, Cincinnati used almost half of its possessions in the first two games with the Large Boy Lineup (Ivanauskas/Vogt) and then didn’t use it even once against Furman after two middling defensive performances. I don’t know that we’ve seen the last of it, but Brennan soured on it very quickly.
  • If you think Rick Barnes experiments frequently, Brennan tried 21 different lineups for at least one possession against Furman. Only the above starting lineup plus a pair of lineups with Williams/DeJulius/Ivanauskas on the court cracked five possessions of usage. Expect a lot of substitutions, but expect those five + Ivanauskas and Davenport to all get 16+ minutes at minimum.


  • Again, one game, Barnes says he’ll change stuff, whatever: Vescovi, Bailey, James, Pons, Fulkerson for now.
  • I went over this some on Twitter and some on Jon Reed’s radio show, but the Vescovi/Bailey lineups were +9 in about 23 minutes on the court, meaning Tennessee was exactly even with Colorado in the other 17. I thought this would be more of a lark-y lineup before it became apparent that Bailey was Barnes’ new James Daniel, in terms of guys who couldn’t defend well previously but can now.
  • Barnes ran out 15 different lineups in game 1, but only four got multiple uses: the starting lineup, the first four + Nkamhoua at center, Vescovi/Keon/James/Pons/Anosike, and Bailey/Keon/James/Pons/Fulkerson. Essentially, all of the top seven spent a good amount of time on the court.
  • Need more minutes for Fulkerson (23) and Johnson (13); could do with less minutes for Nkamhoua (9), but I figure that resolves itself in a month or two with Corey Walker. Also, no Davonte Gaines yet.

Key matchups

Josiah-Jordan James vs. Keith Williams. James may be Tennessee’s best team (not individual) defender unless it’s Fulkerson; he genuinely knows where to be and what to do on almost every possession. Keeping Williams away from the rim is going to be critical to a win here, and I expect Tennessee to throw all of James, Pons, and Johnson at him for various amounts of time. Fewer than 18 points is the goal here, if there is one.

John Fulkerson vs. Chris Vogt. Fulkerson did not handle this matchup well last year, and hopefully, he’s back stronger this time. Vogt essentially does nothing but hang within seven feet of the rim and wait to take a layup, but he’s easy to lose track of because he’s good at drifting in and out of his “dunker” spot. Offensively, Fulkerson can’t be afraid of the height disadvantage; it would be ideal if Vogt gets in foul trouble early.

Santiago Vescovi vs. David DeJulius. DeJulius is more of the game manager type, but as we covered, he’s a pretty good passer that keeps turnovers low and loves a good floater. Vescovi looked improved defensively against Colorado, but there were a few possessions where I noticed him getting lost in various screens. Gotta work on that, and got to get Vescovi at least four or five catch-and-shoot opportunities in this game.

Three predictions

  1. Cincinnati runs their 1-3-1 zone for at least ten possessions;
  2. At least two Cincinnati starters pick up 4+ fouls;
  3. Tennessee, 70-61.

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