Xavier vs. Cincinnati Pick NCAA Basketball – January 26th

We got back to our winning ways last night with an easy winner as UConn went into South Florida and continued the Bulls misery, handing them yet another massive double-digit blowout loss to sink them to 0-8 in AAC play.

Elsewhere, the week of college hoops carnage continued last night in a major way.  Both Florida State and UCLA lost last night to make it five of the top eight teams in the country suffering losses in the last 30 hours.  And just like the three the night before, both of these losses came on the road and to two more unranked opponents.  UCLA suffered their fourth straight defeat against crosstown rival USC while Florida State’s loss was a little more jarring, getting blown out of the gym in Atlanta by Georgia Tech.  On a positive note for Pastner’s Yellow Jackets, it is their second double-digit win over a top ten team this season (North Carolina being the other).

I’ve been pretty vocal about my belief that UCLA is the best team in the country, but after back to back losses to Arizona and USC, perhaps it is time to reconsider.  So, since we must drop the Bruins, the best team in the country is obviously….well…um…. Yeah.

Today’s Free Pick:

Xavier Musketeers at Cincinnati Bearcats -6

This rivalry doesn’t get a ton of national attention in comparison to some of the more glamorous rivalries, but as far as intensity and passion goes, there aren’t many better in college basketball.  This rivalry got SO contentious that four years ago it was temporarily suspended and moved to neutral non-campus arenas because of the frequent fighting spilled over into an actual melee.

Cooler heads have prevailed, and the “Crosstown Classic” ne: “Shootout” is back in full effect.  The Bearcats have the seven-mile home gym advantage this year as well as the advantage in the win/loss column.  Xavier started the year with loftier expectations, but has been unable to get a significant quality win this season, falling in their five toughest contests and leaving them with Clemson as their best win.

Meanwhile, Mick Cronin has the Bearcats at 17-2 and cruising towards a solid seed in the Tournament.  Their losses are to SMU on a neutral and @Butler.  They have won ten straight entering tonight.  However, their best wins are a two-point home win over SMU and an early 55-54 overtime road win at Iowa State.  They’ve played a lot of close, low-scoring games or games against inferior competition.

Tonight will be INTENSE and PHYSICAL.  I think it will also be a close game.  Xavier has a worse record, but in a rivalry game like this, expect their best effort.  This was a top ten team at an early point in the season and on pure talent alone, is probably a notch better than the Bearcats.  UC is more physical and a little stronger, but Xavier has a returning All American in Trevon Blueitt and future pro in Edmund Sumner.  Look for him to have a slight edge in the matchup against Troy Caupain and for Xavier to compete throughout.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Xavier actually clipped them tonight, but I’ll gladly take the half dozen points as a cushion.

Free Pick:  Xavier Musketeers +6

Chris Scheeren / Author