Cincinnati, Louisville in Big East Battle

Handicapping News: Cincinnati, Louisville in Big East Battle

It's likely to be the most important game in the Big East this season outside of Rutgers/Louisville, and could turn out to be the de-facto Big East championship game if Cincinnati can upset the Cardinals as 3.5-point underdogs tonight in a much-anticipated rivalry showdown to be nationally televised by ESPN.

A week ago at this time, we took a brief Big East look at Connecticut/Syracuse for sports bettors with a warning that the really big games were still ahead. HERE WE GO!

  • Cincinnati/Louisville is a battle of teams who are still unbeaten in Big East play (along with Rutgers).

  • Cincinnati/Louisville is a battle of teams who were both ranked in the AP Top 25 last week before Cincy got caught looking ahead to this one by non-conference Toledo.

  • Cincinnati/Louisville is already a rivalry that goes back several years over several sports in multiple conferences. This was going to be a high spirited game anyway. Now it's a high spirited game that will shape the Big East championship race in dramatic fashion.

  • Oh, and there may also be BCS ranking ramifications at stake because Louisville has a shot to run the table and crash the party from its current spot at #16 (the Cards are also #16 in the AP).

Here are the conference standings heading into this weekend...

Rutgers 4-0
Louisville 2-0
Cincinnati 1-0
Syracuse 2-1
Temple 2-1
Pittsburgh 0-3
Connecticut 0-3
South Florida 0-3

Welcome to the party Cincinnati! The Bearcats have only played one conference game so far...but will be dealing with nothing but Big East foes the rest of the way. Rutgers is on top for now because they got a head start. Last week they struggled in the first half at Temple before exploding to victory in the second half. Louisville had its hands full with winless South Florida last Saturday and was lucky to survive the afternoon. Maybe they were looking ahead to this Friday Night battle as well.

Cincinnati at Louisville (-3.5) (tonight on ESPN)
Temple at Pittsburgh (-7)
Kent State at Rutgers (-13.5) (non-conference)
Syracuse at South Florida (-2.5)

Rutgers has a non-conference breather...though they need to avoid the temptation to mail the game in emotionally if they want to protect their #15 spot in the BCS rankings (#18 in the AP).

Quick handicapping keys for Cincinnati/Louisville:

  • Can Louisville slow down the Cincinnati running game that currently ranks 16th in the nation. Big games are often controlled on the ground because it's the safer way to move the ball. The visitor can win the yardage and turnover battles if they successfully play ball control at the point of attack. Louisville must force punts.

  • Can Louisville play solid, disciplined ball for a full 60 minutes. The Cards have had some halves this year that made them look like a top ten caliber team. But, they rarely put two great halves together at the same time. The Cards were almost caught from behind on this field by both North Carolina and South Florida. Fired up Cincinnati may be the team that finally teaches the Cards a lesson about full-game focus.

  • Can Cincinnati play with confidence on the road...having lost their only road game of the season last week at Toledo? It's one thing to post a strong record and respectable stats while facing a home-heavy schedule (a home schedule that included a 27-24 win over Virginia Tech by the way). Penalties and turnovers become more plentiful on the road, and defensive players are more likely to blow their assignments. The Bearcats had better lift their level of play on the road and lift it quick.

A big game for sports bettors who want to start pyramiding their profits early in advance of the busy Saturday and Sunday schedules. Get to work!


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