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Syracuse vs. Cincinnati

Big East Basketball Pick

1/23/11

The College Hoops game of the day takes place in Cincinnati as the 15-5 Bearcats host the 0-1 Syracuse Orangemen. Syracuse is in off their 1st loss of the season after a spectacular 20-0 start. They were upset Saturday by Notre Dame on the road, 67-56. Cincinnati is also in off a loss, dropping a 77-74 OT decision at West Virginia Saturday.

Syracuse opened as a 4 point favorite at 5 Dimes and has since been bet up to -5 as of this writing Monday morning. The total is 135. It should also come as no surprise that the public is heavily favoring Syracuse.

Cincinnati has been a tough team to figure out this season. They have been a tough opponent when hitting the road this year, knocking off Georgia, Pitt, Georgetown and UCONN and almost knocking off West Virginia Saturday. It's safe to say Cincinnati has already satisfied the NCAA tournament prerequisite of a quality road win or two.

The Bearcats have been a different story at home though. Yeah, they eked out home wins over Oklahoma and Villanova and beat Notre Dame by 16, but of their 5 losses this year, 3 of them were at home and against teams they should have beat, Presbyterian, Marshall and St Johns.

When we use season to date stats and run this game through our model we come up with an 8 point Syracuse win, 70-62. When we rerun this game using only stats from the last 8 games, which is all conference play, we still get Syracuse on top, but right around the posted number, a 4 point win, 71-67. More about our model here.

No question Syracuse is the better team. They shoot 48% overall and 50% on the road while holding opponents to 39%. The Bearcats shoot 43% and just 39% in 7 conference games while yielding 43% in those conference games.

Ah, but there's another twist. Syracuse starting Center and leading rebounder Fab Melo did not make the trip and the Bearcats leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick is questionable with a groin injury.

We feel Syracuse is the right side regardless of whether or not Kilpatrick plays. Syracuse is the better team from top to bottom and is coming off their first loss of the season, factored in with Cincinnati's home losses to much weaker opponents, such as St Johns. Look for the Orange to pull away late. Syracuse -5

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