The Bearcats are back among the big boys in college basketball for the first time in over a decade thanks to a devotion to defending. But a singular talent on an otherwise forgettable Georgia State team could test second-seeded Cincinnati.
NCAA Tournament Odds and Betting Analysis
Cincinnati ran through its conference schedule and ended the season by winning 23 of its final 25 games. The Bearcats enter March Madness 30-4 straight up (18-10-1 ATS) with an 11-20-1 over/under record. No. 2 seeds are 18-2 SU but 9-10-1 ATS in Round of 64 games over the last five years.Cincy’s schedule is one thing that should draw a cynical eye from bettors. Its strength of schedule ranks 99th in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy’s rating. Only eight of the Bearcats’ 34 games were against teams that made it into the field of 68 and they went 4-4 SU and ATS in those contests. March Madness betting odds have the Bearcats as 14-point favourites.
Georgia State finished second in the Sun Belt during the regular season but won the conference tournament without beating top seed UL Lafayette. The Panthers went 24-10 SU and 19-11 ATS with a 16-14 over/under mark heading into this March Madness matchup with Cincy.
Georgia State Panthers
Three years ago this small school out of the Sun Belt conference grabbed the spotlight after it upset Baylor as a No. 14 seed and a 9.5-point underdog thanks to some heroics from R.J. Hunter. Fast forward to present day and the Panthers are back in the Big Dance with another big-time player propping them up. Sophomore guard D’Marcus Simonds leads Georgia State in just about all major stat categories including points (21.1), assists (4.5), steals (1.7) and he’s third on the team in rebounds (5.8).
The Bearcats haven’t entered the Big Dance with this high of a seeding since 2001 when Steve Logan and Kenny Satterfield were running roughshod over the competition in Conference USA. Cincy won the regular season and conference title in the American Athletic Conference. Head coach Mick Cronin’s team excels at making life miserable for its opponents. Cincinnati is second behind Virginia in points allowed per game (57.1) and trails only Michigan State in opponent field goal percentage.
Senior big man Gary Clark is one of four Bearcats starters averaging double digits. He put up 20 points and 12 rebounds in the AAC conference title game against Houston.