(10) Iowa vs. (7) Cincinnati
Time: FRI, 11:15 AM CT (CBS)
Spread: CIN -3.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Cincinnati Bearcats finished its season 28-6 with a 14-4 mark in American Conference play. It concluded its season with three straight victories including a 69-57 win over then-No. 11 Houston in the AAC title game. Cincy will square off against #10 seeded Iowa Friday at 11:15 AM (CT) on CBS. The Bearcats are 3.5-point favorites in the game. Iowa finished its season 22-11 with a 10-10 mark in Big Ten play. The over/under is set at 137.5 points according to NCAA basketball oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
Cincinnati finished the season ranked No. 22 in AP polls. It is led by guard Jarron Cumberland, who averaged 18.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 steals in 32.3 minutes of play per night. The Bearcats have five others averaging eight points per game or more, including guard Keith Williams who tallied 10.1 points per game. The Bearcats are guard-heavy with four of its top five scorers playing in the backcourt.
Nysier Brooks is its best big man, but he sees just 23 minutes a game in averaging eight points and a No. 2 on the team 6.4 rebounds per game. Brooks also blocks 1.5 shots per game, helping anchor a Bearcats defense that limited opponents to just 62.4 points per game (No. 12 in the nation). Cincy scores just 71.8 itself, but with a positive-9.4 point differential, it handled its season well with that approach.
It finished the season just 1-4 against AP-ranked opponents, with the lone victory coming over Houston in the AAC title game. Prior to that, Houston had defeated the Bearcats twice though, 85-69 and 65-58. Cincinnati is hoping Cumberland can continue his hot play, as he had 33 points in the AAC title game as Cincy improbably prevailed. Cumberland is a junior who averaged 11.5 points per game last year as a sophomore, but this year he has seen a much larger role in the Bearcats offense and he has delivered. Over his last five games, Cumberland has averaged 20 points and 3.8 assists per game. He had 26 points, eight assists, and four rebounds in the 82-74 win over SMU on Mar 15. and is the key to the Bearcats’ chances in this tournament.
Iowa finished in 6th place in the Big Ten regular season, but it fared just 10-10 in conference play and it lost six of its final eight games, including a 53-74 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Quarterfinals. Iowa is led by forward Tyler Cook. Cook averaged a team-best 14.9 points per game and also led the squad in rebounding at nearly eight per game. The 6’9” junior forward is a heavy interior threat and shot 52.8 percent from the field, though he struggles at the line (64.9 percent) despite working hard to improve that aspect from last year when he was under 60 percent. In the season’s final two games, he had 12 points, six assists, and five rebounds in an 83-62 win over Illinois and he had 14 points and six boards in the loss to Michigan.
When he achieves a double-double, the Hawkeyes are 4-2. However, his last double-double came in a 70-90 loss to Ohio State, as he had 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Buckeyes on Feb. 26.
Rounding out the Hawkeyes rotation are Luke Garza, Jordan Bohannon, Joe Wieskamp, and Isaiah Moss. That quartet all averages nine points per game or better, and Garza ranks No. 2 in scoring at 13 points per game despite playing just 23 minutes per contest. Iowa shot a respectable 36 percent from three this season and 74 percent from the line as a team. It attempted 739 threes this season which is moderately high, but not so much that the Hawkeyes are really dependent on the triple.
Bohannon is the biggest taker of the three, with 75 of 195 shooting on the season, and he struggled badly in the loss to Michigan, going scoreless in 27 minutes. Consistency has been a major issue for him, with two games in double-figures in the last five, but two games with just eight points and one with none. Which Bohannon will show up?