As the 2012 NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments are officially all underway as of Thursday, we can’t resist taking a broader look at the best quarterfinal action kicking off in some of the bigger conferences this afternoon and evening, starting with the top action available in the exciting and talent-packed Big East.
While one of the more classic rivalries happens to already be underway this afternoon as #2 Syracuse and Connecticut are playing out a scrappy contest at Madison Square Garden, we’ll break down what should be an even more exciting showdown between the #13 Georgetown Hoyas (23-7, 12-6 Big East) and the Cincinnati Bearcats (22-9, 12-6 Big East), with tip-off at Madison Square Garden at 2:00 PM ET.
The Hoyas can take solace in the fact that they played the exact game they are known for last night in a defensive-minded shutdown of Pitt, winning 64-52. Heading into tonight’s match-up against Cincinnati however, they’ll likely still be smarting from the 68-64 loss on January 9th at the hands of the Bearcats, which forced them to play that game in the first place. As the only ranked team in the nation that didn’t acquire a double-bye in tournament play, Georgetown will have to play on back-to-back nights against a Cincinnati team that comes in fresh and has won 5 of their last 6 games heading into the Big East Tournament. Georgetown is without question a skilled, defensive-based team, holding opponents to just 58.7 points/game this season (best in the Big East), and for tonight’s game the critical number for them is 64, as Georgetown has not lost a game this year when holding opponents under that mark. Georgetown has a good size advantage around the line-up when compared to the Bearcats, with the heart and soul of their line-up consisting of senior center Henry Sims (11.4 points, 5.9 rebounds/game), senior guard Jason Clark (14.3 ppg) and junior forward Hollis Thompson (13.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg) all out sizing their opposition tonight, but it will be whether or not they can limit the shooting effectiveness of a quicker and arguably more physical Cincinnati squad that determines this game tonight.
Cincinnati may not be big, but behind Yancy Gates (11.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg), they are a strong, dominant team that can quickly pull away in games if given the opportunity to push the ball and hit good open shots. While the Bearcats are the caliber of a ranked team this season, there are a few key areas that prevent them from getting over the Top 25 hump; number one is their awful shooting percentage, at %42.1 from the floor (246th in the NCAA), second is their rebounding (36.3 boards/game, 86th in the NCAA) and lastly, their free-throw shooting (%64.7), which has hampered them for more years than I can remember. While the Bearcats play pretty good defense themselves (allowing just 61 points/game) behind an athletic line-up of smaller players including Gates, Sean Kilpatrick (14.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Dion Dixon (13.5 ppg), Cashmere Wright (10.7 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Jaquon Parker (9.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg), the key to a victory for them tonight will be how they are able to shoot from the floor against a Georgetown Hoyas team that frequently holds opponents under 40 percent shooting. Cincinnati shot 46 percent in the win at Georgetown earlier this season, and has to have similar effectiveness today if they expect to get past a Hoyas team that will be looking to smother the Bearcats shooters all night long.
Betting lines for #13 Georgetown vs. Cincinnati at TopBet Sportsbook
Cincinnati is a good looking pick for underdog takers today, getting +145 odds straight up, while Georgetown comes in as favorites, at -160 odds to win on the money line.
Against the spread, the Hoyas give up -3.5 points at -110 odds, while Cincinnati gets 3.5 points to play with at the same -110 odds.
On the over/under for total points, this defensive match-up finds the marker set at 122.5 points, or 9.5 points less than the total of the last match-up between these two teams. With Georgetown showing off their defensive prowess last night holding an equally good Pitt team to just 52 points, expect another low-scoring affair here tonight to challenge that low mark.
Cincinnati shot 46 percent from the floor and 81.8 from the free-throw stripe in the last meeting between these two teams. We can’t expect those numbers to be so high tonight as Georgetown will put added emphasis on Dion Dixon and Sean Kilpatrick, who went for 22 and 27 points respectively in the last match-up, accounting for 72 percent of Cincy’s scoring total. Georgetown will frustrate the Bearcats in the paint with their size advantage led by Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson, and moves on to the semifinal round with a 60-56 win this afternoon.