Free CBB Pick: Villanova vs. Cincinnati

Doc's Sports | Feb 11, 2013 | ARCHIVE

The Villanova Wildcats will try and further enhance their chances to return to the Big Dance this season on Tuesday night with a win in a Big East showdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats. All the action from Fifth Third Arena is slated to get underway at 8 p.m. (ET), and the game will be available on ESPN3.

The Wildcats keep plodding along in the conference with four straight up victories in their last six games to raise their record in the Big East to 6-5. Two of those victories happened to be against Louisville and Syracuse to put them on the NCAA Tournament bubble in the first place. They are 15-9 SU (14-6-1 against the spread) overall, and the total has stayed “under” in three of their last four games.

Cincinnati is going in the opposite direction with just two wins in its last five games, including back-to-back losses to Providence and Pittsburgh as a favorite. The Bearcats are 18-6 SU overall and 6-5 SU in conference play. They have gone 9-11 ATS this season, and the total has stayed under in nine of their last 10 games.

Betting Storylines

Villanova’s stunning victories over two of the top teams in the Big East were fueled by an offense that has scored well over its season average of 69.5 points a game in three of its last six outings. It scored 94 points in a win over DePaul and hung 73 points on Louisville and 75 points on the Orange in overtime. Overall, the Wildcats are giving up an average of 65.5 points a game, but this number climbs to 69.9 on the road.

To have any shot at scoring a road upset in this matchup, JayVaughn Pinkston, Darrun Hilliard and Ryan Arcidiacono are all going to have to come up big on Tuesday night. Each is averaging over 11 points a game, with Pinkston leading the way with 12.5. He is shooting 47.1 percent from the floor, while James Bell is the team’s top scoring threat from beyond the arc by converting on 39.4 percent of his attempts.

The Bearcats recent slide can be partially attributed to a scoring average of just 54.3 points in their last three losses as compared to a season average of 70.4 points a game. Their field-goal percentage has dropped to 41.6 percent overall and 42.7 percent at home. Cincinnati remains one of the better rebounding teams in the nation with 41.5 a game, which is a slight advantage over the Wildcats’ 37.7 boards a game.

The main scoring threat for the Bearcats is Sean Kilpatrick, who leads the team with 18.2 points a game while shooting 42 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from three-point range. He is joined by Cashmere Wright (13.5 points) and JaQuon Parker (10.5 points) as the only three players scoring in double-figures.

Odds and Trends by BetOnline

Cincinnati has been opened by BetOnline as a seven-point home favorite with the “over/under” line still listed as OFF on its latest board.

The Wildcats are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight road games and a perfect 8-0 ATS in their last eight games following a SU win. The total has stayed under in five of their last six games on the road.

The Bearcats 2-5 ATS in their last seven games and 0-7 ATS in their last seven home games. The total has stayed under in 21 of their last 28 games overall.

The favorite in this series is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings, and the total has stayed under in five of the last seven games. Villanova has a 3-2 edge SU and is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.

Predictions

The Wildcats have proven themselves to be extremely dangerous at times this season and more than capable of beating any team in the Big East on the road. These Cats will put up another tough fight on Tuesday night. And while the Bearcats end up squeaking out the SU win, the play is on Villanova to cover with the points.

Take #529 Villanova (+7) over Cincinnati (Tuesday, Feb.12, 8 p.m.)