Cincinnati Bearcats (13-17) +8.5, o/u 130 vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (22-9), -8.5, o/u 130, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, 7 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday
by Oracle at Predictem.com
The first round of a major conference tournament can be one filled with the start of a team who surprises a lower-seeded team, only to advance far into the tournament, therefore being deemed a Cinderella.
Cincinnati, who snuck into the Big East tournament, will try to do just that, starting with the Pittsburgh Panthers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Outsiders could very well check this game off as a win for Pitt before the game even starts, however, the Bearcats have played the Panthers tough twice already this year, splitting the season series.
Both teams seem to be headed in opposite directions, though. Pitt is slowly getting their players back from injury (Levance Fields) and have won three out of their last four games, while Cincinnati has lost five games in a row heading into the Big East Tournament.
Cincy took advantage of a beat up Pitt team back in January with a 62-59 win. The Bearcats won in the waning seconds, knocking off a ranked opponent for the second time during that week, opening the eyes of many around the Big East. They received a balanced offensive attack, led by Deonte Vaughn’s 14 points.
However, after that win, Cincinnati would come out victorious only four more times the rest of the year, including a 73-67 loss in the rematch against Pitt.
The game was close for most of the game, as it was a 29-29 score at the half, but Pitt went on a mini-run late in the game thanks in part to a Field’s three-pointer with under a minute to go to secure a win.
John Williamson tied a career high with 27 points for Cincinnati, keeping them in the game. Vaughn also scored 24 points, including some tough three-point baskets, as he finished 6-of-13 from beyond the arc.
However, this game marked a nice turnaround for Pitt after a three game losing streak. They were led by an underrated Sam Young and his 20 points, as well as 18 points and 10 rebounds from freshman DaJuan Blair.
The Bearcats covered spreads of 10.5 and 4 in both games. The under came in during the Bearcats win while the over total of 129 was shattered in their loss.
This time out, Cincy is in a familiar position. Most online wagering sites have Pitt opening up as an 8.5-point favorite. The over/under total is similar to the last one at 130 total points.
Neither team has been exceptional against the spread this year, with the Panthers at a 14-12 mark and the Bearcats at 15-13.
The Panthers don’t mind playing at a neutral site, covering 4 out of their last 5 on even ground. Also, when Pitt is the favorite by 7 to 12.5 points, they’re 4-1 in their last five games against the spread.
On the other hand, Pittsburgh has had a hard time lately covering back-to-back games, as they’re 0-5 following a win ATS.
The Bearcats are 11-3 ATS after a straight up loss and are 8-1 in their last 9 Wednesday games. On the flip side, though, is a 1-7-1 mark ATS in their last 9 games on a neutral site as underdogs.
The over is a huge trend for both teams. It’s 4-0 in Cincy’s last 4 games as a dog and 5-0 when they’re a dog of 7 to 12.5 points.
The over has come in six straight times for Pitt heading into the Big East Tournament, thanks largely in part of players come back from their injuries and giving them a boost. The over is also 25-6 when Pitt is a favorite of 7 to 12.5 points.
Cincy is looking for some magic heading into the tournament. Their season hangs in the balance of tonight’s match up against a Pitt team who is looking for the rejuvenation that helped them start the year 11-0.
Oracle’s Pick: Cincy has played Pitt tough all year. Expect more of the same today. Take the Bearcats at the current line of +9!