NCAA Tournament Picks: Harvard vs. Cincinnati

David Lawrence

Monday, March 17, 2014 6:47 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 17, 2014 6:47 PM UTC

The Harvard Crimson pulled off one of the biggest upsets in last year's NCAA tournament. Can the Ivy League champions once again rise to the occasion and do something special on the first full day of action on the NCAA's biggest basketball stage? Let's see what the NCAA basketball odds have to say.

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Take a Look at 2013-14 NCAA Tournament Betting Futures

The Crimson can win because...

Cincinnati can't score consistently. The Bearcats are a wonderful defensive team but they have a lot of issues right now on offense. Cincinnati is a team that can be close to unbeatable if its role players are making shots, but if that doesn't happen, coach Mick Cronin's team is extremely vulnerable. Cincinnati struggled badly in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. It's important to point out that the Bearcats didn't just shoot poorly in their semifinal loss to Connecticut, a good team. The Bearcats didn't play well on offense in their quarterfinal win over Central Florida, a team that's not very good. Cincinnati has only one proven scorer, Sean Kilpatrick, and if Harvard can contain him, the Crimson have a really good chance of keeping this game close on the NCAA basketball odds until the final minutes, enabling them to win on just a few possessions.

The Bearcats can win because...

They are far more physical than the Crimson are. Cincinnati might not have that much offense, but the Bearcats can go and crash the boards if they miss shots. It's going to be very hard for Harvard to keep Cincinnati's Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles off the glass. Jackson and Rubles might not be highly skilled offensive players, but they are so ferocious on the boards and on defense that they're going to have more energy than what Harvard is used to when playing in the Ivy League. Cincinnati is so much more powerful and quick than any team Harvard has played over the past few months. The Bearcats don't have to shoot at a high percentage from the field if they can rebound consistently, and that's what they're in position to do against an opponent that is not likely to match up very well in the paint. 

What should also be said in this game is that if Harvard tries to doubleteam Kilpatrick and take him out of the flow of the offense, the Crimson will risk situations in which Kilpatrick can either pass to the open man for an easy layup or simply throw up a shot that Jackson can rebound if it misses. Harvard might be so focused on stopping Kilpatrick that its help defenders will be out of position on a regular basis.

NCAA Tournament Betting: Breaking Down the Draw

Outlook & Pick

Harvard will keep this game close for 30 minutes but Cincinnati is deeper, faster and stronger than the Crimson. The Bearcats' defense is going to be too tough for whatever Harvard might want to do on offense. Take Cincinnati with your NCAA basketball picks as they’ll win this game by getting defensive stops.

NCAA Tournament Pick: Cincinnati -3 at Bodog

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