College Basketball Pick: Cincinnati vs. UConn
NCAA Basketball Spread: UConn -6.5
The Connecticut Huskies lost star Kemba Walker after last year’s national title, but this is still an extremely talented team. UConn has already dropped two Big East games, but they are unbeaten at home this year. Cincinnati has had an up and down season thus far. The Bearcats only have one loss in the Big East. Can Cincinnati pull off the big upset or will the Huskies stay perfect at home?
Cincinnati has been a tough team to figure out this year. The Bearcats lost at home to St. John’s a little over a week ago. They followed up that disappointing loss with a stunning win at Georgetown. The brawl with Xavier got a ton of television coverage, but Cincinnati is trying to do their best to erase that from everyone’s memory. Four players average double digits in points for the Bearcats. Cashmere Wright is maturing at the point guard spot. Wright has upped his assist total significantly from a year ago. Dion Dixon has put up 22 points in both of the Bearcats last two games. Yancy Gates served a suspension after the Xavier brawl, but he has been great over the last few games.
The strength of this Cincinnati team has been their half court defense. Opponents are shooting just 40 percent from the floor against this Bearcats defense. Cincinnati communicates well on defense, and the team is quick to help when anyone gets beat. This team is giving up only 58.8 points per game.
Jeremy Lamb emerged as a major weapon for the Huskies in the NCAA Tournament last year. With Walker gone, Lamb is now the main man on campus for UConn. Lamb is shooting better than 50% from the floor, and he is averaging 17.9 points per game. Shabazz Napier is another youngster who has taken a leadership role for this team. Napier leads the team with 32 steals, and he is also the team leader with 106 assists. Andre Drummond is a freshman sensation who has come in and dominated the paint on a regular basis this season. Drummond is shooting 60% from the floor, and he averages 7.6 boards per game. Ryan Boatright isn’t expected to play in this one due to ongoing concerns about his eligibility.
The Huskies defense has been tremendous this year. Lamb and Napier are both great on-ball defenders, and the team as a whole is very long and athletic. Opponents are shooting a miserable 36.4% against UConn so far this year. In addition, this Huskies team is great on the defensive glass, so opponents almost never get second chance points.
Don’t be surprised if Cincinnati keeps this one closer than most people expect. Both teams play very tough man-to-man defense. UConn should win in a close one.
Prediction: UConn 67 Cincinnati 63