In Nashville Sunday at 6:10 EDT, No. 2 Cincinnati will take on their opponent, a high scoring team from Reno in No.7 Nevada.
Out of nowhere, we are getting boxing references everywhere. Buster Douglas' name has come up and Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin added this one. "The key to our defense has been it's almost like a 15-round fight," Cronin said. "We feel the other team out. We make adjustments, and the kids do a great job with it. They step up their defensive intensity."
After looking like they had never faced a zone defense like Texas. Nevada caught a break in the second half when the Longhorns played man to man for the first 12 minutes of the second half and found their rhythm and shot their way to the Round of 32 in OT. The college basketball odds say the Wolfpack is a 7-point underdog with a total of 137.5. Is that accurate, let's go over both teams.Cincinnati Has To Stay in Character
Coach Cronin and his staff have no doubt been looking over the Bearcats earlier matchup with Buffalo, in which they won 73-67. That is the closest comparison in terms of style they will face against Nevada.
Cincinnati (31-4, 18-14 ATS) will see a club loaded with shooters, who connect on 10 three-pointers a game, yet are skilled enough to run off screens and find shots well inside the arc and make them. The other element Cronin's crew will have to defend is how skilled the Wolfpack players are at passing off dribble penetration, which accounts for almost half their made baskets at the rim.
Cincy's bigger and stronger players have to alter where Nevada likes to run their half-court sets to throw off their offense. On offense, the Bearcats will have to make some three's early to loosen up the Wolfpack defense, so they can work inside easier.Ball Movement and Rebounding are Nevada's Keys
Most of the first half, Nevada (28-7, 16-16-2 ATS) players were surprisingly content to stand behind the three-point line and just hoist three's against the Texas 2-3 zone. Once coach Eric Musselman explained to his players that they had to move and not stand around, the Wolfpack players began to look like a squad that averaged 83.2 points a contest.
While it was worth a try for Texas to play man at the start of the second half, the Longhorns coaching staff stayed with that defense far too long. When they finally went back to the zone, all of Nevada players were back feeling good, making shots and moving the ball.
This will be how they attack Cincinnati's defense, by limiting dribbling on the perimeter and instead keep the ball moving. This also prevents the Bearcats from playing as physically.
Defensively, make Cincy prove they can make long shots and play zone. While Nevada is not going to win on the boards, they will have to win on defensive rebounding and not allow put-backs for scores.Cincinnati Grinds Down Nevada
For college basketball picks, I will forecast what I saw in Cincinnati vs Georgia State. Nevada will play well for a half, but in the last 20 minutes, the Bearcats defense will better tougher to penetrate. This will lead to runs of 'one and done' trips for the Wolfpack and Cincinnati will slowly but surely grind away to a 10-point victory and head to the Sweet 16.
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.