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Cincinnati vs. Missouri
Basketball at the University of Cincinnati is back on the map thanks to alumnus HC Mick Cronin. The program experienced a 5 year period in the dark after the dismissal of the legendary Bob Huggins. This year the sixth seeded Bearcats finished 25-8 with an 11-7 record in conference play. They own marquee wins over Xavier, St. John's, Louisville and Georgetown (twice). Players like Cashmere Wright, Yancy Gates, Rashard Bishop and Dion Dixon all play key roles for this big team. The Bearcats were 7-8 against foes that made it to the Big Dance this year. Their first opponent will be the Missouri Tigers out of the Big XII.
Missouri has had great success in recent years, but find themselves with one of four eleven seeds in 2011. Big wins for the Tigers came over Old Dominion, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Colorado and Kansas State. This is a fast team that finds ways to score, but are a bit soft on defense. As losers of 4 of their last 5 they will have questions to answer. Their record against NCAA Tournament teams was 4-7. This isn't as bad as it seems considering they lost to Kansas twice.
The Tigers are a balanced team led by junior G Marcus Denmon (17.1 PPG, 45 3PT%, 3.4 RPG, 1.8 SPG). He could have a hard time against a strong Cincinnati defense, but he has got his fair share of points more often than not this year. Junior F Laurence Bowers (11.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG) is tough in the paint. He's a fast big man which is a contrast to the larger, but slower Cincinnati players. Fast breaks will be the friend of this team.
Mick Cronin and Yancy Gates have had a rocky relationship as Cronin has suspended him on more than one occasion. They will have to find harmony in the Dance though as the Bearcats are an infinitely better team when Gates is doing well. The junior had a career high 25 points against South Florida in the Big East Tournament. Another player, Cashmere Wright, will have to bring his A game as well. Wright is a sophomore and he runs the point. He is an excellent ball handler and the only one who excels at the position on the team. If he falters so will the Bearcats.
This line opened with Missouri as a 3 point favorite but has since moved to PK with action heavily favoring Cincinnati.
We agree with the move as our score prediction model has Cinci winning by 2, 71-69.
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