Date/Time: February 22 at 12:00 pm EST
College Basketball Betting Favorite: Louisville -3
The Louisville Cardinals were beaten at home earlier this year by the Cincinnati Bearcats. They’ll have their shot at revenge this Saturday. It’s a matchup of two top 11 teams in the polls, and this game means a bunch to both programs. It’s late in the season, and this game will be broadcast by CBS. It’s always a tough and gritty battle when these teams get together. Who will come out on top here?
Louisville is the defending champion, but the Cardinals lost some significant talent from last year’s team. Rick Pitino’s team comes into this year’s tournament as a definite contender for the title once again, but they are no longer a favorite. Right now, Louisville is trying to fight for the American Athletic Conference crown. Cincinnati leads the league, and this is Louisville’s chance to catch up. The Cardinals dug a big hole in the first meeting, and weren’t quite able to come back.
Louisville’s style is the same once again this year. The Cardinals are all about getting out in transition and scoring off steals from their full court pressure. When Louisville is at their best, they are driving the opposition crazy with tons of pressure defense. Louisville is 7-1 away from home, so winning on the road hasn’t been an issue for them this season. Russ Smith leads the team with 17.8 points and 4.5 assists per game. When he is off with his shot, this team can struggle. Luke Hancock needs to stay healthy for this team to make a deep run this season.
Cincinnati is a defense first team as well. The Bearcats are holding opponents to just 57.4 points per game this season. Opponents are shooting a miserable 39.3 percent from the floor against Cincinnati. Mick Cronin’s team makes the opposition work extremely hard for every shot they get. The Bearcats aren’t particularly good on the offensive end, but their defense more than makes up for that weakness. They are good at getting on the glass and getting second chance opportunities on offense. Cincinnati is shooting only 43.3 percent from the floor overall and just 33.4 percent from long range so far this year.
How did Cincinnati get the job done in winning at Louisville earlier this year? The Bearcats outrebounded Louisville 34 to 24. They also shot 49 percent from the floor. The one note of caution for Cincinnati was their 20 turnovers. They probably can’t win Saturday unless they cut down on those turnovers. Sean Kilpatrick has been a solid player for Cincinnati in his four-year career, but he has emerged as a star this year. Kilpatrick averages 20.2 points per game this season, and he has come up with all kinds of big shots. Justin Jackson is the main man down low for the Bearcats, and his physicality sets the tone.
Score Prediction: Louisville 71 Cincinnati 66
I think Louisville has a decent shot of getting revenge here. The Cardinals are a well-rounded team, and they play very well on the road. Louisville has some value in this one.
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