Pittsburgh at Cincinnati Picks and NCAA Hoops Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 2/9/2013
The top game on Saturday’s college basketball slate takes us into the bell of the Beast.
No. 25 Pittsburgh travels to take on No. 17 Cincinnati at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the Queen City in the matchup of two Big East contenders. The Panthers are 19-5 on the season and a half-game ahead of the Bearcats at 7-4 in league play. Cincinnati is 18-5 on the season and 6-4 in Big East play.
Cincinnati has actually beaten Pittsburgh once this year, winning 70-61 on the road back on New Year’s Eve. That was the second straight road win for the Bearcats over the Panthers, and the road team has won three of the last four meetings going back to 2010. Prior to that, the home team had won four straight.
Here is a breakdown of one ofthis weekend’stop matchups:
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati Betting Story Lines
Pittsburgh enters this weekend’s game off back-to-back wins, and the Panthers have nuzzled themselves into the Top 25 by winning six of their last seven games. Cincinnati enters this contest off an upset loss at Providence this week.
Cincinnati’s strength lies in one of the most experienced backcourts in the nation. The Bearcats lean on a trio of senior guards, including a pair of three-year starters, to do most of their damage. Sean Kilpatrick leads the team with 18.3 points per game, and veteran point guard Cashmere Wright is second with 13.9. Two-year starter and resident sharpshooter JaQuon Parker fills out the backcourt.
If Cincinnati has a weakness it is that their frontcourt is made up of a junior, a sophomore and two freshmen. They don’t provide a lot of scoring and are inexperienced. The Bearcats opt for length and athleticism near the basket rather than heft and strength, and Justin Jackson is the best of the bunch. But despite the lean makeup of this group, they are No. 1 in the conference in rebounding and are hellish defensively.
The Panthers have somewhat of the opposite makeup. Pittsburgh is rough and rugged near the basket with four of their top five scorers playing either forward or center. All, with the exception of freshman center Steven Adams, are upperclassmen, and what they miss in style they make up for in craftiness on the offensive end.
But Pittsburgh really has just one lone ball handler: senior Tray Woodall. Perhaps no player in the Big East is as singularly important to their team as Woodall. He leads the Panthers in points, assists and minutes played and is their second-best free throw shooter. If injury or four trouble limits him at all, the Panthers can fall apart on the road.
Pittsburgh has a gaudy record and earned a lot of credibility with its win over Syracuse last Saturday. However, there are some holes in its resume. Pitt played the No. 331-rated nonconference schedule in the country this year, feasting on pathetic teams like North Florida and Kennesaw State. The Panthers have faced just the ninth-toughest Big East conference slate so far.
But outside of a loss at Rutgers, Pitt doesn’t really have any bad losses, either. They fell to Michigan by just five points back in November. They also have a three-point loss at Louisville and an overtime defeat against Marquette to go with their loss to Cincinnati.
The Panthers have been tough on the road, however, blowing out Georgetown and Villanova both away from home.
Cincinnati is almost equally unknown. They faced just the No. 311 nonconference schedule in the nation. They had some nice wins over Iowa State, Oregon and Alabama, but all three of those teams are much better today than they were while still figuring things out in November. The Bearcats have lost five of their last 11 games, and outside of their win at Pitt and an overtime win over Marquette, the Bearcats have beaten up on league bottom-feeders.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati NCAA Hoops Betting Odds and Key Trends
The spread on this game opened as a ‘Pick’ .No total was available at time of publication, but I can project that the line will be around 121.5.
Cincinnati has been a solid bounce-back team. They are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games after failing to cover the spread and a solid 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following a straight-up loss. The Bearcats have been clawless on the weekends, though. They are just 6-13 ATS in their last 19 Saturday games. And they have struggled at home recently, going 0-6 ATS in their last six games at Fifth Third Arena.
Pittsburgh has also struggled on the weekends, going just 2-6 ATS in their last eight Saturday games. And they have been the antithesis of Cincy in that the Panthers have gone 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games following a win.
The road team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings, and the underdog is 6-2 ATS in the last eight games against one another.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati Picks and Betting Predictions
This game really is a toss-up. Both of these teams are paper tigers, and I don’t know that either is really one of the Top 20 teams in the country. They have opposite strengths, and when it comes down to it I don’t know if I trust either side.
I would give the total a look. And in a move that would be against the public, I would say to go with the “over”. Pittsburgh has played three straight games “under” the total and Cincinnati four straight, with eight of nine going under. Also, given the nature of their playing styles, I expect the books to try to overcorrect a bit with a total in the low 120s. But these teams scored 131 points in the first meeting despite going a combined 3-for-26 from three-point land and 40-for-60 from the free throw line. That’s tough to do.
Six of the last seven meetings have gone over, and the over is 14-5 in Pittsburgh’s last 19 games overall. The Bearcats are a dead under team. But the books know that and they are going to set a number that begs for over money. One of these teams is going to hit 65 points, and I think the other will do enough to get this one over the total.
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