Bearcats Get Nod Over Buckeyes in Ohio Showdown

Willie Bee

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 4:05 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 4:05 PM UTC

Cincinnati returns to Fifth Third Arena for the first time in 20 months, and we have a free pick for the huge in-state rivalry matchup against the Buckeyes.

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Ohio State (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) at Cincinnati (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)Wednesday, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)Free Pick: Cincinnati ATSBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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More than 20 months have passed since the Cincinnati Bearcats played a meaningful game at Fifth Third Arena, the team venturing south across the Ohio River into Kentucky to play home games last season. Rechristening the gym Wednesday should be something special with the Ohio State Buckeyes in town to provide the Bearcats’ opposition.

This should be a very even game between a pair of schools who each have solid NCAA Tournament aspirations, and that should result in a fairly tight spread once the sports books release their numbers.

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Bearcats, Buckeyes play Wednesday, ending decades of bad basketball blood https://t.co/B5eHVRO2UF via @enquirer

— Tom Groeschen (@TomGroeschen) November 6, 2018
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Cumberland Crucial To Cincy’s Chances In 2018-19

Chris Holtmann’s first season in Columbus beat expectations, the Buckeyes cruising to a 15-3 Big Ten record and giving No. 4 seed Gonzaga a tough game at the Big Dance in the Round of 32 before things came to an end. Replacing Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate won’t be easy, but CJ Jackson is back to give Ohio State a strong floor general, and much is expected from 6-9 sophomore Kaleb Wesson who is a load inside. Key newcomers include senior Keyshawn Woods, a grad transfer from Wake Forest, plus freshmen Justin Ahrens and Luther Muhammad, the latter a perimeter defensive specialist.

Mick Cronin and the Bearcats made an earlier-than expected exit from March Madness, suffering a 2nd-round loss as a No. 2 seed after winning the AAC regular season and tournament crowns. Three of the top 4 scorers are gone, but Jarron Cumberland returns and has a lot of experience around him. Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome give Cronin and the Bearcats excellent ball-handling abilities on the perimeter. Just how far Cincinnati goes this time could be determined by how much Tre Scott and Eliel Nsoseme take over on the inside.

Just 2nd Regular-Season Matchup For Ohio Neighbors

The schools have met just four times previously, only one of those coming in the regular season. The other three took place in the NCAA Tournament, Cincinnati beating Ohio State twice in a row in 1961-62 for the championship, and the latest clash an 81-66 Buckeyes win over the Bearcats in the Sweet 16 round of the 2012 tourney. Ohio State was an 8-point favorite in the 2012 matchup, the final easily getting past a 128-point total on the NCAA basketball odds board.

We can expect a very raucous atmosphere at The Shoe’s reopening, and it won’t be easy for the Buckeyes to take the crowd out of this one. I’ll back Cincy with my free college basketball pick.

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