Published on Monday, 3/4/13, at 1:01 a.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
**Cincinnati at Louisville**
–As of early this morning, most betting shops had Louisville (24-5 straight up, 15-14 against the spread) installed as a 10-point home favorite with a total of 120.5. Gamblers can take the Bearcats on the money line for a plus-500 return (risk $100 to win $500).
–Rick Pitino’s team picked up its best win of the season Saturday at Syracuse. Russ Smith made several big plays at crunch time to lead the Cardinals to a 58-53 victory over the Orange as 1.5-point underdogs. Smith, U of L’s leading scorer with an 18.3 points-per-game average, finished with a team-high 18 points. Gorgui Dieng produced 11 points, 14 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, while Luke Hancock buried 4-of-5 shots from 3-point land en route to a 12-point effort.
–Louisville has limped to a 5-9 spread record at home, but the Cardinals have only lost once (to the ‘Cuse) at the KFC Yum! Center.
–Cincinnati (20-9 SU, 10-15 ATS) snapped a three-game losing streak by capturing a 61-56 win Saturday over UConn, but it failed to cover the spread as a 7.5-point home favorite. The 117 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 127-point total. Sean Kilpatrick was the catalyst for Cincy, producing 20 points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists without committing a turnover.
–Cincy has only been an underdog four times, going 2-2 ATS. The richest underdog situation came in a 57-55 loss at Syracuse as an eight-point puppy. In the two spots where the Bearcats were underdogs of six points or more, they took the cash both times.
–Cincy is 48th in the RPI Rankings, compiling records of 1-3 against the RPI Top 25, 4-7 vs. the RPI Top 50 and 8-9 against the RPI Top 100.
–U of L is fifth in the RPI, going 3-3 against RPI Top 25 opponents, 6-4 versus Top 50 foes and 10-5 against the RPI Top 100.
–Mick Cronin’s team defends extremely well, giving up an average of only 59.1 points per game. But the Bearcats often go long stretches without being able to score. This has been a remedy for ‘unders’ galore. The ‘under’ is an NCAA-best 18-4 overall in Cincy games, going 6-2 in its road assignments.
–The ‘under’ is 13-10 overall for Louisville, 4-4 in its eight home games with a total.
–The ‘under’ has cashed in five consecutive head-to-head meetings between these Big East rivals.
–Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
–Ole Miss is in the midst of yet another late-season collapse. On several occasions during Andy Kennedy’s seven-year tenure, the Rebels have looked like a team destined for the NCAA Tournament, only to fall apart down the stretch. The result has been zero NCAA appearances since 2002, the longest drought among SEC schools. This year’s crash reached its peak Saturday night when Mississippi St. won a 73-67 decision over the Rebels as a 12-point home underdog at The Hump in Starkville. The Bulldogs hooked up money-line supporters with a delicious +650 payout (paid $650 on $100 wagers). Kennedy’s bunch isn’t dead yet, but it almost certainly has to win in its last two games vs. Alabama and at LSU and get at least one more win, possibly two, at the SEC Tournament. And I don’t see that happening.
–Kansas will take on Texas Tech on Monday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU. The Jayhawks are favored by 24.5.
–One of the biggest winners over the weekend was Boise St. The Broncos beat Colorado St. 78-65 as one-point home underdogs behind 38 points from Derrick Marks. The win was BSU’s 20th overall and the third over an RPI Top 50 opponent. Boise St. has won four in a row both SU and ATS and going back further, it is 7-1 ATS in its last eight outings.
–Doug McDermott scored 41 points on 15-of-18 shooting from the field in Creighton’s crucial win Saturday at home over Wichita St. The victory undoubtedly puts a wrap on an at-large bid for the Blue Jays.
–Alabama blew a golden opportunity to do the same thing as Creighton at Florida. The Crimson Tide surged into the lead at the O-Dome in the second half, but it went cold offensively down the stretch and lost by 12 in a misleading final score. A late flurry by the Gators in the final two minutes hooked up their backers for halftime bets. Leading by three at intermission, UF was an eight-point favorite in the second half (-11 adjusted).
–Finally, at long last, I’ve started to produce winners in college hoops. I have hit 10 consecutive winners (with three pushes) and own a 13-1-3 record (93%) since Feb. 21. I have the side and total for tonight’s Big East showdown.