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UCLA-Cincy – Is It All About Tempo?

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Updated: .March 20, 2017

By Charles Jay

Well, you could not come up with more interesting clash of styles then you’ve got in the South regional of the NCAA Tournament, where the UCLA Bruins look to turn up the volume as much as possible, while the Cincinnati Bearcats would prefer to slow their opponents to a crawl. This game will tip off at 9:40 PM ET at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, home of the Kings, and America’s Bookie customers will have two different “Live Betting” options at their disposal, as they place wagers during the event itself.

Both of these teams have outstanding records. UCLA is 30-4, although they haven’t been as successful against the basketball pointspread, going 16-18, including four straight losses to the number. They have also played eight of their last 11 games under the total. Still, they shot lights-out against Kent State in their Big Dance opener, and guess what? Cincinnati shot at almost the exact same percentage in beating Kansas State, which had gained that spot through a play-in game. The difference is that UCLA could be expected to shoot at such a high percentage occasionally, while it is more or less a unusual experience for Cincinnati. But the Bearcats might have to get hot from the field on Sunday, against a UCLA team that doesn’t always exhibit great defense.

In the NCAA Tournament odds that have been posted on this game, UCLA is favored, but not by much:

UCLA Bruins -4
Cincinnati Bearcats +4

Over 153.5 points -110
Under 153.5 points -110

Neither of these teams turns it over all that much, and that is especially good news for Cincinnati, since that is one way UCLA could fuel a transition game. The big question is whether the Bearcats can stop UCLA from moving along at its accustomed offensive tempo. But is that the entire answer? Were not sure about that. UCLA, which is ranked second in the nation in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, according to our friends at KenPom.com, can hurt you from anywhere. While Cincinnati might be the fourth-best team in the country in defending three-pointers, UCLA is third-best nationwide shooting both threes and two-pointers. And there is little question that they have the best player on the floor in Lonzo Ball, who might just wind up the first player pick in the NBA Draft.

Yes, we were duly impressed with the way Cincinnati dispatched Kansas State, but we also remember that right before that, in the American Athletic Conference title game, they shot just 31%, and surrendered 50%, is a 15-point loss to SMU. The fact of the matter is that over Cincinnati’s last dozen games, they have shot below 40% six times, and that won’t help them keep pace with the Bruins. Mind you, they have also held the opposition below 40% in five of the last seven games, but when you think about it, who has really stop UCLA? Well, Arizona and USC had success on defense against them in the Pac 12 tournament, but that’s really about it. You are going to have to shoot well to beat Steve Alford’s team – there are no two ways around it. It will get Cincinnati’s aptitude from three-point range – only 34.5%. What were saying is that even if Cincinnati can keep UCLA and a half-court game, they won’t win a jump-shooting contest. All our signs point to UCLA minus the points, as they stand a pretty good chance of shooting their way into the title game. That’s the way we’re going in the Charles Jay/America’s Bookie Challenge for Sunday night.

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