Will Bearcats claw way past Hawks?

Will Bearcats claw way past Hawks?

Having already secured the second-best record in program history, Saint Joseph’s couldn’t be playing much better at the most opportune time of the year. Cincinnati just wants to move beyond one of the basketball season’s most excruciating losses.

The two schools meet each other at 9:45 p.m. in the finale of a marathon day in the West Region. Oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI have installed the Bearcats as 2-point favorites.

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Mick Cronin’s team dropped a four-overtime thriller to UConn in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals. It nonetheless received a ninth seed in the NCAA tournament, thanks largely to a defense that ranks among the stingiest in the country. The Bearcats permit just 62.9 points per game and swat shots like few others.

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The Hawks obviously possess their own strengths, all of which were on display during last week’s tear through the Atlantic 10 tourney. Head coach Phil Martelli relies on forwards Isaiah Miles and DeAndre Bembry to do most of the heavy lifting.

Neither Miles nor Bembry, however, can compare to Cincy’s overall wealth of length in the low post. Between that element and Troy Caupain’s blazing play in the backcourt, expect the Bearcats to halt Saint Joseph’s run right here.

FRIDAY NCAA FREE PICK: CINCINNATI -2

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