The way the third-seeded Connecticut Huskies (27-9) have performed on neutral courts this year, they probably wish they could have played all of their games that way. Now the Huskies (-3) will be making history by playing one of the other 10 schools that made the NCAA tournament from the Big East Conference in the third round of the West Region on Saturday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The sixth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats (26-8) will be the opponent and try to hand UConn its first loss on a neutral court this season.
No teams from the same conference have ever met this early in the Big Dance, and another Big East squad is guaranteed to leave after Louisville, Villanova, St. John’s and Georgetown lost their second-round games. The Huskies figure to stick around after going a perfect 9-0 straight-up and against the spread in games so far at neutral sites, including titles in the Maui Invitational and the Big East tournament which they won last Saturday.
Connecticut is coming off an 81-52 rout of #14 Bucknell on Thursday behind Kemba Walker’s game-high 18 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. While Walker nearly recorded a triple-double, he did not need to dominate this game offensively like he did last week at Madison Square Garden, as teammates Roscoe Smith (17 points) and Jeremy Lamb (16) chipped in.
Cincinnati has won two of the last three meetings with UConn SU but is just 1-4 ATS in the past five games between the teams. The Bearcats lost the only meeting this season 67-59 at home on February 27 with the Huskies again not having to overly rely on Walker to carry them. He totaled 16 points while Lamb led the team with 17.
Like UConn, Cincy dominated #11 Missouri in its first game of the NCAA tournament in a 78-63 victory. The Bearcats rebounded from a brutal 89-51 loss in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament by knocking out the Tigers. Yancy Gates had a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds while Dion Dixon added 16 and six. Gates had a decent game in the last meeting with the Huskies – totaling 14 points and eight rebounds – but Dixon scored just seven in 22 minutes.
The OVER has cashed in Cincinnati’s last three games after the UNDER went 6-1 in the previous seven. The UNDER is an impressive 13-3 in the last 16 games the Bearcats have been underdogs. The opposite trend has happened for Connecticut, with the UNDER cashing in two straight games after four consecutive OVERs. The total has also gone UNDER in the last two meetings after four straight OVERs.
Pick: UNDER 130