College basketball on Thursday night and we will see the Cincinnati Bearcats travel to Louisville, Kentucky to take on the Louisville Cardinals. The game has a start time of 7:00 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN. Vegas odds have the Cardinals listed as 9.5 point favorites, while the total sits at 128.5.
Analysis: The Cincinnati Bearcats come into this game on a 12 game win streak and they stand at 19-2 overall, including 8-0 within the AAC. They are just 4-2 in true road games this year, but have won all 4 of their AAC road games thus far. Cincinnati is know for a stifling defense that comes in ranked 5th in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 56.9 ppg, and they also rank 17th in the nation in defensive FG% (38.3%). Offensively, the Bearcats are a very average team, putting up just 71.2 ppg on 43.1% shooting. Still with their defense they aren't looking to put up a ton of points. Sean Kilpatrick (19.1 ppg) and Justin Jackson (11.1 ppg) are the only 2 double digit scorer for this team, while Jackson leads the team in rebounding (7.0 rpg).
Louisville is off to a very fine 17-3 start and they are 6-1 in the ACC, plus 11-1 at home on the year. Louisville comes in having won 4 in a row and have outscored their opponents by an average of 24.5 ppg in those 4 wins. Like the Bearcats, Louisville is built on defense,as they come in ranked 22nd in points allowed (61.8 ppg) and 26th in defensive FG% (39.1%). The number are a touch worse than the Bearcats but still solid and they do come in having allowed just 56.5 ppg during their 4 game win streak. Now unlike the Bearcats, the Cardinals do have an offense, scoring 83.2 ppg (13th) on 47.2% shooting overall (51st) and 37.5% from long range (57th). 5 players average in double digits for the Cardinals, led by Russ Smith at 18.0 ppg. Montrezl Harrel leads the team in rebounding 8.5 rpg, while also ranking second on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg).
Pick: Anyone that knows me knows that this is a classic under play for me. Neither team pushes tempo and both teams play great defense. The Bearcats are one of the best defensive squads in the nation, allowing just 56.5 ppg on the year. They did just allow 76 points to Temple, so you know that defense was key in their practices this week and prior to the temple game they allowed 60 or less in 8 straight games. Yes Louisville can score, but they haven't played many defenses as tough as this, this year. The Cardinals allow 61.8 ppg on the year, but just 56.6 ppg in their last 4 games, so they are playing well on defense right now and Cincinnati is a below average offensive team. This should be a hard fought battle till the end, with no more than 125 points being scored.
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