Louisville at Cincinnati -2 O/U 130
The ongoing saga between Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin and star forward Yancy Gates leaves everyone in the dark as to how much or even if the junior will play tonight. He has seen the floor for just 29 minutes over the last two games and played only one minute in the second half of the Bearcats 59-57 home loss to St. John’s last Sunday. Regardless of how much or how little Gates plays here, I prefer the “over” for a couple of key reasons. First, Louisville is healthy now as Rakeem Buckles returned to the starting lineup four days ago and eased in by playing 14 minutes. Now that head coach Rick Pitino has a full complement of pieces to work with, I expect UL to really put the pedal to the metal and attempt to wear out Big East opponents.
Cincinnati’s veteran ball handling duo of Cashmere Wright and Dion Dixon won’t be overwhelmed but they can be sped up and forced into some turnovers (Cincinnati averages 13.1 per game). Also note the porous Cincinnati three-point defense which has allowed a league worst 38.3% in conference play. The Cards long range shooters led by Kyle Kuric (50%) and Preston Knowles (36 made 3’s leads Big East play) figure to command Cincinnati’s attention and allow openings to drive for PG Peyton Siva. The transition game should be in full gear here and despite Cinci's scoring problems, getting this game into the neighborhood of 135 shouldn’t be a problem.