Confidence Builder

Philadelphia,Pa - Villanova's confidence should increase after finally beating a ranked opponent. The same can be said for Cincinnati.

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On Sunday, the 21st-ranked Wildcats hope to avoid a letdown after a huge Big East victory as they try to prevent the visiting Bearcats from knocking off their second straight ranked league foe.

Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook have made the Villanova -11.5 point spread favorites for Wednesday’s game against the Cinncinnati. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 53% of more than 194 bets for this game have been placed on the Villanova -11.5.

In the final college basketball game at Philadelphia's historic Spectrum, Villanova (16-4, 4-3) used a dominating second-half performance in posting a 67-57 victory over No. 3 Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

It was the Wildcats' first victory over a ranked team after falling to then-No. 6 Texas in December and then-No. 23 Louisville and then-No. 3 Connecticut earlier this month.

"We were really tough, we were physically tough," said Villanova coach Jay Wright, whose team outscored Pitt 41-26 in the second half, and held the Panthers to one field goal over the game's final five minutes. "It wouldn't have got us down if we didn't come back and beat a ranked opponent. We pride ourselves on not letting one game turn into a problem.''

Though the Wildcats return to the Pavilion - the on-campus home where they've won 24 straight dating to January 2007 - they likely can't afford a lapse in effort even against improving Cincinnati (14-7, 4-4). The Bearcats are coming off a 65-57 home win over No. 25 Georgetown on Wednesday for their first win in three tries over a ranked team.

Philadelphia native Reggie Redding had a career-high 18 points, and Dante Cunningham added 15 on Wednesday for Villanova, which has won two straight and three of its last four overall.

A junior guard averaging 7.3 points this season, Redding has scored 13.7 in his last three contests since entering the starting lineup.

Redding, though, was held scoreless in Villanova's 69-66 road loss to Cincinnati on Jan. 12, 2008 in the teams' most recent meeting. Scottie Reynolds had 32 points in that contest, but the Wildcats went 6-for-22 from 3-point range and were outrebounded 38-28 in losing for the first time in three league meetings to the Bearcats.

Cincinnati guard Deonta Vaughn scored 25 points last season versus Villanova, and has played well of late. The junior, averaging 15.6 points this season, had 20 against Georgetown after a 23-point effort in a 71-60 victory at St. John's on Jan. 22.

The Bearcats enter this contest having won four of their last five, including road wins over the Red Storm and DePaul. The victory over the Hoyas marked the third time in five games Cincinnati has held an opponent to fewer than 60 points.

"We're getting our feet on the ground," said Vaughn of the Bearcats, who are 2-2 on the road in conference play. "We're letting everyone know we're coming out to play hard. We need to keep playing like this to win. It tells everybody that we play hard. We don't care who the team is but we are going to play hard."

Cincinnati has already surpassed its win total from last season, when it went 13-19 and won only three road games in the Big East.

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Posted: 2/1/09 12:50AM ET


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