#9 Cincinnati (22-10) vs #8 St. Joseph’s (27-7)
When: Friday, March 18th 2016
Where: Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA
Time: 9:57 ET | TV: truTV
The St. Joseph’s Hawks and Cincinnati Bearcats will battle Friday night in Spokane, Washington in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Hawks, who won the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament for the second time in three years, have not won a first round game since advancing to the Elite Eight in 2004. St Joe’s beat out fellow tournament members Dayton and VCU in the A-10 Tournament and scored over 80 points in each contest. The Hawks took down VCU 87-74 in the championship game and were led by Atlantic 10 Player of the Year DeAndre Bembry, who scored 30. Bembry also contributed five rebounds and four assists in the victory after scoring just 9 against Dayton in the semifinals. The Junior shoots 48.1% for the season, but has made over half of his shots in five of the last eight games including a 13-of-16 effort against VCU. Senior forward Isaiah Miles added 26 points and 12 rebounds against the Rams en route to earning the Atlantic 10 tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honors.
Cincinnati had to sweat out Selection Sunday after dropping two of their final three games including a triple-overtime loss to Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference Tournament last week. The Bearcats earned their sixth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and have 20 wins or more in each of those seasons. Cincinnati has held six of its last 10 opponents to 60 points or fewer and hopes to use their top-10 defense to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Cincinnati ranks 11th in the country at hold opponents to just 39.0% shooting from the floor. Troy Caupain filled up the stat sheet in the triple-overtime loss to the Huskies as he racked up a career-high 37 points to go along with 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals after being named to the All-AAC first team earlier in the week. Octavius Ellis added 13 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season while Gary Clark also got into the act with 12 points and 12 boards against UCONN. Cincinnati is 44-28 lifetime in the NCAA Tournament.
Cincinnati had a nice season, but their lack of offense worries me and St. Joe’s is coming in with some momentum. I like taking teams that won their conference tournament to at least win their first game. We’re getting points here, so its a no-brainer.
Pick: St. Joseph’s +3