Each week during the college basketball season, I will offer my picks and predicted final scores for the biggest games on Saturday, as well as some mid-major matchups. This way, when the lines are released Friday evening, you'll have at least one Vegas pro's opinion as to what the final scores might look like and the teams you should wager on.
Here's a look at six key matchups on Saturday, including Syracuse-Duke, Louisville-Cincinnati, Villanova-St. John's and San Diego State-New Mexico.
Note: Teams in bold are my projected ATS picks.
The polls have Cincinnati ranked higher than Louisville. But the most influential computer power ratings (kenpom.com and Sagarin) both have the Cardinals as the better team, by fairly wide margins (No. 3 versus No. 21 for kenpom and No. 10 versus No. 20 for Sagarin). In this instance, I agree with the computers more than the humans. Cincinnati is a one-trick pony offensively with Sean Kilpatrick as its only consistent scorer. The Bearcats have notched a bunch of coin-flip wins in "right place and right time" spots.
On the other hand, Louisville is a stud-laden, defensive-minded championship contender. The Cardinals' only loss in their past 10 games came at home to these same Bearcats -- a game in which they rallied from 17 down to take a lead, but failed to hit a single shot in the last five minutes of play. I'm expecting a better shooting effort from the road team, improving on their 6-0 SU (straight up), 5-1 ATS (against the spread) mark on the highway in American Conference play.
ATS pick: Louisville 66, Cincinnati 61