Bearcats putting Bruins, Ball on upset alert

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

March 19, 2017 11:07 AM
lonzo_ball
UCLA, led by freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, will get tested by a tough Cincinnati team in the second round. @USA Today Sports Images

This could be the end for Lonzo Ball as a college basketball star. Obviously, in a one-and-done tournament any game could be UCLA’s last, but now is when it gets serious.

Ball is battling minor injuries, the offense is beginning to slow down, and two great defensive teams are looming with Kentucky in the Bruins’ half of the bracket. The deeper we go into the NCAA Tournament, the more emphasis there is on defense.

Strong point guard play is critical, too, and Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin spent some time Saturday comparing Ball, a 6-foot-6 freshman, to Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd. Those are fair comparisons, yet coaches always tend to overhype the opponent.

Mayhem might be brewing in the South Region on Sunday. There are two live underdogs, one being the Bearcats, who are 3½-point ‘dogs to UCLA in Sacramento. The line remains 4 at a few Las Vegas sports books, but sharp action has surfaced on Cincinnati.

As for Ball, he has a bruised hip and sore left thumb. Still, he was typically efficient Friday in a 97-80 victory over Kent State. He will get a real test in the second round.

Cronin is a feisty little guy, and his teams are always tough. The Bearcats battle on every possession, which is why they rank fourth in the nation in scoring defense at 60.5 points per game and held Kansas State to 61 in a first-round blowout. The Bruins will not be running a layup drill or staging a dunk contest.

Six players score in double figures, led by TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Ball. UCLA entered the tournament with the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense (90.6), but it averaged only 76 points in the previous three games.

At some point this season, the Bruins figured to get exposed by their weaknesses on the defensive end, and they are nearing that point. Cincinnati is improved offensively, and 6-4 senior Troy Caupain is the type of tough point guard who can give Ball problems.

I took 4 points with the Bearcats. The UCLA-Cincinnati winner will face either Kentucky or Wichita State. The two favorites are on upset alert. And here are two more plays for Sunday:

North Carolina (-11) over Arkansas: Point guard Joel Berry II is recovering from a right ankle injury, but the Tar Heels’ big advantage will be inside where Justin Jackson, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks should dominate. North Carolina leads the nation in rebounding margin, and the Razorbacks are weak on the defensive glass.

Wichita State (plus-3½) over Kentucky: No doubt, the Wildcats are more talented, and freshman guard Malik Monk is an explosive scorer who could take over the game. However, the Shockers are much better on the defensive end and they fight harder on each possession. In a classic second-round game three years ago, John Calipari prevailed. This is Gregg Marshall's shot to get revenge.

Saturday: 1-3 against the spread

Season: 29-18-4

back to news

QuickPicks_300x250_080920_NFLkickoff

Headlines

View All
  • Magny should shine in Fight Island 8

    Magny should shine in Fight Island 8

    Wednesday’s UFC event begins at 6 a.m. Pacific Time, so the theme might as well be Beatdowns and Bagels. Max Holloway dominated Calvin Kattar...
  • Watch bombers in Palm Springs event

    Watch bombers in Palm Springs event

    Kevin Na shot 61-65 on the weekend to win the Sony Open in Hawaii at as high as 80-1 odds. Na (40-1) will attempt to win in back-to-back weeks this week...
  • Schedule critical in CBB futures bets

    Schedule critical in CBB futures bets

    Last week we discussed the importance of taking a positive approach to college basketball futures betting. That is, focus on playing plus numbers instead...
  • First impressions as hockey returns

    First impressions as hockey returns

    It’s great to have hockey back, but bettors must temper their expectations and trust their preseason projections. Therefore, this is a great time...
  • Tuley's Takes on Championship Sunday

    Tuley's Takes on Championship Sunday

    The NFL’s divisional playoff round was a mixed bag for us here at the Tuley’s Takes home office, though I spent Saturday at Circa with VSiN...
  • Injuries dog Chiefs, but Packers on roll

    Injuries dog Chiefs, but Packers on roll

    And then there were four. We’re looking forward to what is maybe the single best day on the NFL calendar: Championship Sunday. The matchups are...
  • Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

    Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

    For as different as this NFL season has been due to the impact of COVID-19, the first two weeks of the playoffs have generally followed the trends of...
  • How to gain edge betting CBB rematches

    How to gain edge betting CBB rematches

    (To view the charts with this report, subscribe to Point Spread Weekly) In a typical college basketball season, and to a lesser degree this season,...
  • Mahomes mystery puts oddsmakers in bind

    Mahomes mystery puts oddsmakers in bind

    It’s generally easy for oddsmakers to post lines on most NFL games. The numbers are typically airtight, unlike in college football. A quarterback...
  • Championship Sunday capsules

    Championship Sunday capsules

    NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME Buccaneers at Packers (3:05 p.m. ET Sunday) The Packers opened as consensus four-point home favorites against the...
  • With Pacers surging, Clippers on long haul

    With Pacers surging, Clippers on long haul

    Another week gone, and bettors have yet to see any NBA team separate itself from the pack. The Los Angeles Lakers seem like the surest thing on the board,...
  • 10 months in making, going all in on Bucs

    10 months in making, going all in on Bucs

    I made some bets on the Buccaneers last March that are now very much alive. These were placed the night before Tom Brady announced where he was signing....

Google Play
App Store
Close