NCAA Pick Against the Spread – Cincinnati vs. Florida State

#6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles -2.5

Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates made an accurate an astute observation in regards to tonight’s matchup with Florida State when he said they “are like a Big East team.”  It was in no means a knock, in fact, he meant it as a statement of respect.  Florida State is one of the more rugged and physical teams in the country and is in the Top 5 in opponent field goal percentage allowed.  Tonight is going to be a Big East-style defensive battle – just the way both teams like it.

Both teams come into the NCAA Tourney with great momentum and are intriguing dark horse Final Four candidates.  Even if Cincinnati were to win (technically an “upset”), the East will clearly be the region most intact heading into a great weekend of Sweet Sixteen games.  Cincinnati’s late-season surge from Bubble Team to dark horse Final Four contender is well chronicled.  Likewise, Florida State’s epic run through the ACC tournament, beating Duke and North Carolina in the span of 24 hours was incredibly impressive as well.  It is hard ot give either team an advantage in terms of momentum over the past four weeks.  Both are playing great and are full of confidence.

It is also hard to say one team is definitively more talented than the other.  Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates might be a tad better offensively and have a little more variety in his post game than Florida State’s Bernard James, but James is a superior defensive player and shot blocker and has a little more bounce off the floor than Gates.  It is a pretty even, and incredibly watchable matchup tonight.  Whether you wager this game or not, I wouldn’t recommend missing it!

On the perimeter, Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick has emerged as a legitimate scorer and excellent defender, but I’d give the slight edge to FSU’s Michael Snaer.  Snaer is best known for his array of buzzer-beating winning shots this season (including at Cameron Indoor to beat Duke), but his game is more than a few last-second heroics.   He is the Seminoles leading scorer and will put a lot of pressure on Cincinnati’s defenders to keep him funneled away from the lane.

The key to this game is shooting.  Florida State has better perimeter shooters, but those shooters are also more limited overall than the Cincinnati guards like Cashmere Wright and Kilpatrick.  I think Cincinnati is quick enough on the perimeter to contest shots and force FSU into a low-shooting percentage.  From there, I like their interior toughness and ability to “win ugly” to prevail in an fantastic wrap-up to the first weekend of action.  This game doesn’t tip until around 10pm eastern, but it is going to be worth the wait.  Give me the Bearcats in a low-scoring slugfest.

Free Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats +2.5 <– click to bet it and get up to $2,500 in free bets

Chris Scheeren / Author