CINCINNATI BEARCATS (20-9)
at LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (24-5)
KFC Yum! Center Ė Louisville, KY
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Louisville -10, Total: 120.5
Losers of three of its past four games, Cincinnati heads to highly-ranked Louisville in search of a win to boost its NCAA tournament chances.
Cincinnati went through a rough stretchólosing to Georgetown, Connecticut and Notre Dameóbefore snapping its skid Saturday against the Huskies. But the Bearcats failed to cover for the sixth time in seven games. The Cardinals, by contrast, have won five in a row SU, including a 58-53 win against then-No. 12 Syracuse on Saturday, coming out on top even as 1.5-point underdogs. Since ending a three-game losing skid on Jan. 28, Louisville is 8-1 SU in its past nine games with the lone defeat coming in five overtimes at Notre Dame. These two teams are meeting for the first time this season after splitting the two decisions last season.
Can Louisville win convincingly in this Big East clash on Monday? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Gary is red-hot with a 7-2 ATS (78%) mark in his past five days to improve to 55% ATS (94-77-4) for college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave is 4-1 ATS since Thursday, and is now 52% ATS (150-140-5) for the season. StatFox Brian went 4-2 ATS on Saturday/Sunday and is 58.3% ATS (7-5) since Thursday.
Junior SG Sean Kilpatrick (17.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG) leads the Cincinnati offense and is coming off a 20-point performance in the win against Connecticut. But he was also at the center of the teamís struggles, shooting 28.6% from the field in the teamís three consecutive losses prior to that. He struggled last season against Louisville too, going 6-for-20 from the field in the two meetings. Heís joined in the backcourt by senior PG Cashmere Wright (12.6 PPG, 3.3 APG) who starred in Cincinnatiís win against Louisville last season, dropping 22 points. SG JaQuon Parker (11.0 PPG) is the teamís only other legitimate scoring threat. PF Titus Rubles (6.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG) leads the team in rebounding, but at 6-foot-7, is undersized in the paint.
Louisvilleís trademark is its defense that forces 18.7 turnovers per game, the second most in Division-I. SG Russ Smith (18.4 PPG, 2.1 SPG) leads the team on offense and defense. He has also excelled as a distributor recently, averaging 5.0 APG in the teamís past three contests. PG Peyton Siva (9.8 PPG, 6.0 APG) is the engine of the offense, though he often struggles to score himself. He went 0-for-9 from the floor in Saturday's win against Syracuse. Heís hitting 1.0 threes per game, but doing so on a terrible 29.8% clip. Like Smith, he is a top-notch defender, averaging 2.0 SPG. PF Chane Behanan (10.7 PPG) also struggled against Syracuse, scoring just four points on 1-of-6 FG, but thatís atypical for the sophomore, whoís hitting 50% of his shots this year. Where head coach Rick Pitino may have the biggest advantage is in the post with 6-foot-11 C Gorgui Dieng (9.9 PPG). Dieng owns at least three inches on all of Cincinnatiís primary post players and is one of the best rebounders (10.1 RPG) and shot blockers (2.6 BPG) in the nation. Heís coming off an 11-point, 14-rebound, two-block, two-steal performance against Syracuse. Louisville needs him to control the block in order to grind out a big victory.