(3) Florida State vs. (6) Cincinnati: East Region
Florida State 25-9, 12-4 ACC (Conference Tournament Champions)
Cincinnati 25-10, 12-6 Big East (At large)
Time: 9:40 p.m. Sunday
TV: 9:40 p.m.
Location: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
First round results
Florida State def. St. Bonaventure, 66-63
Cincinnati def. Texas, 65-59
Winner will face: (2) Ohio State or (7) Gonzaga, Thursday in Boston
Florida State No. 10 AP; No. 12 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Cincinnati No. 27 AP; No. 29 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Florida State 10
Line: Florida State -2½ (O/U 127)
Players to Watch
Florida State: F Bernard James, 6-10 Sr. (10.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 60.9% FG); G Michael Snaer, 6-5 Jr. (14.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 42.1% FG); G Luke Loucks, 6-5 Sr. (6.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.2 rpg). James was outstanding Friday, particularly during the Seminoles second-half comeback in the win over St. Bonaventure. James finished with 19 points, nine rebounds (four on the offensive end), three blocks and he helped hold St. Bona star Andrew Nicholson in check late in the triumph.
Cincinnati: G Sean Kilpatrick, 6-4 So. (14.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.1 apg); F Yancy Gates, 6-9 Sr. (12.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 47.2% FG); G Dion Dixon, 6-3 Sr. (13.1 ppg, 2.1 apg, 1.6 spg). Kilpatrick showed signs of brilliance as a freshman and he has lived up to the promise as a sophomore. On Friday, the White Plains, N.Y., native didn’t score much, but he finished with eight points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot, and he continues to show great court leadership.
Why Each Team Dangerous
Florida State: The Seminoles did what they do in Friday’s win, holding the Bonnies to 23-of-57 from the field and blocking nine shots in the win. For the year, teams manage just 38.1 percent from the floor and 30.9 from the 3-point line against FSU. The ‘Noles force 15.2 turnovers and block six shots per game. There’s no doubt this is the top handful of defensive squads in America. And FSU has proven more offensively capable this year than last year when they made a trek into the Sweet 16. On Friday, it shot 45.3 percent and made seven of its nine 3s. That came on the heels of a 58.9 percent shooting performance against North Carolina in the ACC championship game. FSU has shot at least 45 percent in five of its last six outings.
Cincinnati: Like Florida State, the Bearcats win with defense. Opponents shoot just 41 percent overall and 31.8 percent from deep against Cincinnati. And the Bearcat defense has been even better of late, holding their last 13 opponents to 46.4 percent or worse from the field. On Friday, Cincy held Texas to 20-for-57 from the floor and 7-for-20 from the 3-point line. The Bearcat offense has been pretty good lately, as well, scoring at least 65 points in five of their last six games.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
Florida State: Despite the recent offensive “outbursts,” the Seminoles are not a stellar offensive team and are prone to long draughts. For the year, they are shooting just 45.8 percent from the floor and 35.4 from the 3-point line. They turn the ball over 16 times per game to just 12.2 assists per outing. Cincinnati’s defense could give Florida State all kinds of trouble.
Cincinnati: Despite scoring pretty well of late, Cincinnati’s offense isn’t very good. The Cats shoot just 42.1 percent from the field, 33.9 percent from the 3-point line and have allowed opponents to get to the free throw line 500 times this season. The Bearcats can also be beaten on the boards. They have just a 0.4 rebounding margin per game and that could get them beat against the big, bulky Seminoles.
The Bottom Line: This game could have fewer than 100 points scored. With that said, it would be foolish to bet the line. My advice is take the under instead. Since it’s my job to pick the line, I’ll take FSU to win and the Bearcats to cover.
The Pick: Florida State 47, Cincinnati 46
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 216-165-6 (Through Friday, March 17)
Round of 32 Against the Spread: 19-12-1