Cincy Wins Game, but Georgia State Covers in South Matchup

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 8:43 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 13, 2018 8:43 PM UTC

South Region action Friday includes No. 2-seeded Cincinnati playing 15th-seeded Georgia State in Nashville (2 p.m. ET; TBS). Can the double-digit underdogs hang within the number?

Cincinnati vs. Georgia StateFree NCAAB Pick: Georgia State +14Best Line Offered: Intertops

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Cincinnati's outstanding defense will face a skilled offensive opponent that also does a very good job of holding opposing teams below their scoring average. Nevertheless, the college basketball odds board certainly favors 2-seed Cincinnati, a two-touchdown favorite (-14), with the total up to 130.

Can 15th-seeded Georgia State make enough shots and limit the Bearcats shooters, or does this physical Cincy squad just overwhelm the Panthers and pound them into oblivion?

The Cincinnati Way

While other top college programs have changed how they play and recruited a number of one-and-done players to stay near the top, coach Mick Cronin has a certain way he likes to do things. Cronin prefers players who are more physically larger (see: not skinny) who appear to be teachable and like to get down in a defensive stance and lift weights. This is how the Bearcats play, and this season they are second in defensive efficiency and have the same ranking in field-goal percentage allowed at 37 percent.

So why is this Cincinnati (30-4, 17-14 ATS) club better than others in recent years? Is it just the defense or something else? No question the Bearcats' stifling defense is part of their success, but for most of the year Cronin's crew shot the ball better than past Cincy teams, both inside and outside the arc. They are off on both accounts over the past month, which could be a concern, but that was against better AAC teams that knew them well.

Georgia State Better Than Seed

The Panthers are back in the field of 68 after a three-year absence. Ron Hunter is proving he can coach and find scorers that fit his style. Georgia State (24-10, 19-11 ATS) has Sun Belt Player of the Year D'Marcus Simonds, who scores 20.9 PPG and dishes out 4.5 dimes a game. Though the offense runs through Simonds, this team is not a one-man band.

Junior guard Devin Mitchell (12.2 PPG) and junior forward Jeff Thomas (10.9) have had games this season where they took over the scoring duties. Their contributions allowed Georgia State to average 75.3 PPG and make 46.5 percent from the field and a noteworthy 39.1 percent from behind the arc.

The largest concern for Hunter's squad is on the glass, where they have a -3 differential and Cincinnati is +7 against much stronger competition.

Cincinnati Has To Overcome Chalk-Filled Number

If the Cincinnati defense has one of those games, they should cover the spread. But Georgia State upset defensive-minded and No. 3 Baylor in this same scenario three years ago. The Panthers defense holds foes to 39.5-percent shooting on the season, and in their past four outings facing Sun Belt teams they held them to 37.4 percent. I'm not going to call for the outright upset with my NCAAB picks, but I like Georgia State to cover with an 11-3 ATS mark after two or victories.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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