Cincinnati Bearcats Basketball: Best Team in the Cronin Era Just Getting Started

Alex CallosCorrespondent INovember 29, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 18:  Sean Kilpatrick #23 of the Cincinnati Bearcats celebrates after defeating the Florida State Seminoles during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 18, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Mick Cronin is now in his seventh season as the head coach of the University of Cincinnati. The team has gotten better in each of those years.

It culminated last year with a 26-win season and a trip to the Sweet 16. After six games and an undefeated month of November, Cronin and his Bearcats have shown that this is the best team since his arrival back on campus as the head coach.

Unlike many other talented Bearcats teams of the past who did it with big men and a slower pace, this group does it with excellent guard play and an up-tempo offense that currently ranks seventh in the country at nearly 87 points a contest. They also lead the country in rebounds with over 49 a game. 

The Bearcats are currently sitting at No. 16 in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll and have a chance to move up with a victory on Saturday against an undefeated Alabama team that is one spot away from being ranked this week.

They are coming off wins in Vegas over the likes of Iowa State and Oregon. Both teams were undefeated coming in and Cincinnati handled its business with extreme regularity.

If Cincinnati had a name like Duke or Kentucky on its jersey, the Bearcats would be ranked in the top 10 in the country.

The talent is that good and the team is led by a backcourt that is not only the best in the Big East, but possibly the best in the entire country.

Junior Sean Kilpatrick is a pure scorer who has developed his game over the past three seasons and is the best in the Big East when it comes to putting the ball in the basket.

While Kilpatrick leads the team at 21 points a game, perhaps the most important player on the roster is fifth-year senior point guard Cashmere Wright.

Wright is averaging 16.5 points a contest while leading the team in assists and steals. He's also shooting 47.5 percent from three-point range.

These two are joined by do-it all swing-man JaQuon Parker. The 6'3" senior has the ability to play four positions and is averaging 10.5 points a game. 

The group calls themselves the "Three Amigos," and with the combination of experience and talent they bring to the table, it could be a deep run into March for the Bearcats and head coach Mick Cronin.