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Cincinnati vs. Ohio State

Sweet 16 Pick

Preview with Analysis

3/22/12

Have you heard? The state of Ohio is pretty good at basketball. In fact, they are the first state to ever have four teams in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet Sixteen. However, just three could possibly advance to the Elite Eight under the best circumstances because the Ohio State Buckeyes (2) will play the Cincinnati Bearcats (6).

The Bearcats and Bucks have met twice in the Tournament with Cincinnati taking both bouts, sending home an undefeated Ohio State team to win the Tournament in 1961 and again in the same game the following year. This will be only their second meeting since 1962 and the first meeting since then in the Big Dance. Plenty of bad blood exists between these institutions and big time bragging rights are on the line. After all, it could be decades before they meet again.

Bookmakers have tabbed the Buckeyes as a 7.5 point favorite in this East Region game to be played in Boston, MA. Cincinnati is carrying 63.4% of the ATS action. The Mick Cronin coached Cincinnati team is 7-3 in their last 10 games ATS versus 5-5 for the Thad Matta led Buckeyes. The OVER has hit in 8 of Ohio State's last 9 games.

Cincinnati finds itself in the Sweet Sixteen after sending the Florida State Seminoles packing by a score of 62-56 in their second round game. The Seminoles had a combined four wins against North Carolina and Duke this year and were a sexy pick to make it to the Final Four. The Bearcats were steadied behind the strength of Sean Kilpatrick, a sharp shooting guard that had 18 points while going 4-6 from down town. Before that, they beat Texas 65-59 in the first round. Yancy Gates had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Ohio State, a Tournament favorite, earned a hard fought 73-66 win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Buckeyes had 18 points from Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas as well as 17 from Aaron Craft. This was a critical game as it showed they weren't going to depend solely on Sullinger for points. Craft stepped up big time. Prior to that win they crushed Loyola (MD) by a score of 78-59 in the first round.

One of the most critical matchups in this game is Jared Sullinger v Yancy Gates. Sullinger is a sophomore standing 6-9 that averages 17.6 PPG and cleans the glass for 9.3 RPG. Gates, also 6-9, is a senior that gets 12.4 PPG and 9.2 RPG. A physical force in the paint, Gates plays great defense. An NBA prospect himself, Gates will be tasked with shutting down a surefire lottery pick in Sullinger. Whoever emerges victorious is likely to find himself on the winning side of the game.

Our score prediction model, when taking into account each teams entire body of work this year, the full season, has Ohio State winning by 13 points. However, if we take into account only the last 7 games, that margin shrinks to just 4.

If we take all of the Sweet 16 teams, and readjust their power power ratings by emphasizing the last 7 games, the highest rated team would be Ohio State, but still only 6 points better than Cincinnati. It's safe to say, any team remaining in the tournament is on some sort of a roll and could be tagged "go with".

We don't see any way to play this game from a betting standpoint. It's likely that when the dust clears, Ohio State will be moving on to the Elite 8. It's the margin that's in doubt.

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