NCAA Hoops AAC Semifinal Betting Preview: (21) Connecticut Huskies vs. (13) Cincinnati Bearcats

Shabazz-Napier-connecticut-12-3(21) UConn vs. (13) Cincinnati
American Athletic Conference Semifinal
Time: 9:30 PM ET, Mar 14, 2014
Spread: PICK
Total: 123

Betting odds courtesy of Bovada

No. 21 Connecticut is 25-7 on the season and finished AAC play with a 12-6 mark. It will face No. 13 Cincinnati in a game college basketball oddsmakers are setting with an even line. Cincy finished with a 15-3 mark in AAC play but the teams split their meetings this season.

Much of the focus in this game will be on the matchup between Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati and Shabazz Napier of UConn. Kilpatrick led the conference in scoring with 20.9 points per game, but Napier was named conference player of the year. Napier averaged 17.6 points per game, while also grabbing six rebounds and dishing out over five assists per contest.

Part of the reason people will key in on this matchup is that the better performer’s team won both of the meetings between the teams this year. Kilpatrick had 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the Bearcats’ 63-58 win on Feb 6, while Napier mustered just 5-of-19 shooting for 16 inefficient points. Napier had 18 points and 11 boards in the 51-45 UConn win on Mar 1, while Kilpatrick struggled with his shot in that game, hitting just 4-of-16 from the field. The Huskies did not score a field goal over the final 7.5 minutes of game time, but still walked away victorious.

“You know what type of game that’s going to be, it’s going to be a war. We gotta have that heart, we gotta have that hustle,” said Huskies coach Kevin Ollie.

Cincy is also coming in on a bit of a down note after narrowly escaping UCF on Thursday. The Bearcats won 61-58 as Kilpatrick scored 21 points on a UCF defense that was designed around stopping him. Justin Jackson and Kevin Johnson both scored in double-figures in attempt to help Kilpatrick, but the Golden Knights success with the box-and-one defense on him has to be worrisome for Cincinnati whose offense is so dependent upon Kilpatrick.

“I know that a lot of teams are going to have a lot of attention on me but my teammates can score as well and that’s something we have on this team…a lot of talent so I let my teammates take over what they can do.”

Kilpatrick’s confidence in his teammates is inspiring, if misplaced. Only Jackson averaged double-figures this season (11.1 points per game) and though the Bearcats do have depth in the form of a nine-man rotation, few are regular scorers or contributors, and the team shot just 42.9 percent from the field this season. While Kilpatrick may have been enough to help compile an impressive run through the regular season, he’s going to have to be right about his supporting cast for Cincinnati to make a run in the NCAA tournament…or even just to muster a win over a tough UConn team in today’s game.

CONN Trends: UNDER 11-1 in last 12 overall; 5-21 ATS in last 26 Friday games.

CINC Trends: UNDER 7-1 in last 8 neutral site games; UNDER 41-11 in last 52 overall; 3-7 ATS in last 10 overall.

Head-to-head: UNDER 6-2 in last 8 meetings.

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