Villanova Wildcats (23-5 SU, 17-10 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (16-12 SU, 7-16 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, March 2, 2010, Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Villanova -3/Cincinnati +3
Two Big East teams in desperate need of a win, both having lost three of their last four games, will battle in out in the final week of the regular season, as the Cincinnati Bearcats host the Villanova Wildcats Tuesday night at Fifth Third Arena.
Villanova is still in good shape heading into the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament despite having lost three of four and four of seven after starting off with a 20-1 record overall and 9-0 in the Big East. The Wildcats haven’t won a road game since a February 8 win at West Virginia.
The Wildcats are coming off a 95-77 loss at Syracuse on Saturday in front of a crowd of more than 30,000 in a highly touted matchup between the top two teams in the Big East. Scottie Reynolds led Nova with 16 points, Corey Fisher had 14 points on 3-of-12 shooting overall and 0-for-5 on 3-pointers, and Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou each had 13 points. Nova was out-rebounded by 12, committed 18 turnovers, and only forced 10 turnovers. The Wildcats shot 42 percent from the field and 8-for-28 on 3-pointers, while Syracuse shot 43 percent from the field and 7-for-21 from 3-point range.
Cincinnati is currently in desperation mode. The Bearcats are on the bubble but on the wrong side of it right now. They are at home with a chance to earn a high quality win over Villanova and they can’t afford to not take advantage of this opportunity. After faring very well in non-conference play, the Bearcats have failed to pick up a signature win in conference play. They did defeat UConn twice and Notre Dame and South Florida at home, but those are the only quality wins they have in conference play. A win over Villanova would give them an opportunity to possibly get an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament with a deep run in the Big East tournament.
The Bearcats haven’t won more than two games in a row since January 2. They’ve lost five of their last seven games with their only wins in that stretch coming over UConn and DePaul. In their last game, the Bearcats lost 74-68 at West Virginia on Saturday. They had a 39-33 lead at the half but they wore down in the second half and the Mountaineers pulled out the victory. Deonta Vaughn led Cincy with 15 points, Lance Stephenson had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Yancy Gates had 10 points. The Bearcats got out-rebounded by 11 and shot 39 percent from the field and 9-for-21 from beyond the arc. West Virginia shot 43 percent from the field and 7-for-19 on 3-pointers.
Cincinnati has a couple statistical advantages over Villanova in conference play this season. The Bearcats have the advantage on the boards where they have about a +6 rebounding margin as compared to Nova’s +3 rebounding margin. Nova is committing 14 turnovers per game in conference play, while Cincy is only committing 12.7 per game. But Nova is forcing almost five more turnovers per game than the Bearcats. The Wildcats are shooting 48 percent from the field in conference play and 37 percent from 3-point range, while the Bearcats are shooting 44 percent from the field and 30 percent on 3-pointers. Cincy is holding conference opponents to 43 percent shooting overall and 35 percent on 3-pointers, while Nova is holding opponents to 41 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent from beyond the arc.
The Wildcats are very quick on the perimeter, so Cincy will have to be careful not to commit many turnovers. The Bearcats have to drive to the basket and get a lot of points inside on easy layups, offensive rebounds, and free throws. On the other end, they have to stop Nova’s penetration and force them to settle for a lot of 3-pointers. The Wildcats are a very good outside shooting team, but if Cincy can force them to jack up a ton of outside shots and hope that they miss most of them, it will be an advantage for the Bearcats.
Villanova is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as a road favorite but 1-4 ATS in its last five games overall. Cincinnati is 0-9 ATS in its last nine home games, 0-4 ATS in its last four games following an ATS win, and 7-20 ATS in its last 27 games overall. The home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams.
Ryno’s Pick: Look for the Wildcats to rebound off a horrible embarrassing loss at Syracuse. Turnovers and guard play will determine the outcome of this game and that will be Villanova winning and covering the spread.