Seminoles And Bearcats Collide In Nashville

By: Willie Bee | Saturday, March 17, 2012

How fortunate do you think Leonard Hamilton and Mick Cronin are feeling today?  And by fortunate, I don't mean "the better team won" variety a la Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, I mean truly blessed to still be in the Big Dance.

On a Friday that saw a pair of 15's drop 2-seeds – as well as a 10, 11, 12 and 13 advance – Hamilton's Florida State Seminoles and Cronin's Cincinnati Bearcats just survived being tossed on the upset heap.  The ACC and Big East powers, seeded third and sixth in the East Regional respectively, will cap the first week of the NCAA Tournament when they meet Sunday in a 9:40 p.m. (ET) telecast by TBS from Nashville.

Bloody Friday took its toll on a lot of brackets with lower seeds going 8-8 outright and underdogs 8-7-1 against the spread.  Among those pulling off upsets were the (12) South Florida Bulls and (13) Ohio Bobcats who will square off at Bridgestone Arena (7:10 p.m. ET) in the lead-in to the Seminoles-Bearcats battle.  The contest between Florida State and Cincinnati is one of only two on Sunday that pits higher-seeded teams who won their Friday tilts, the other being a Midwest Regional collision between (1) North Carolina and (8) Creighton.

Spreads and totals are slowly but surely creeping out for all eight games on Sunday, so keep an eye on the Don Best odds screen to catch all of the opening numbers plus the ensuing movement.  Here's an early preview of the final two dances in the Nashville pod.

Bulls & Bobcats Battle For Sweet 16
While fans enjoy seeing underdogs win, this is definitely not the matchup TBS was hoping for to preface the Bearcats and Seminoles.  It's safe to say that 90 percent of those who are in one bracket contest or another can't name two players from the South Florida or Ohio rosters.

Two Bobcats who played a key role in their 65-60 upset of (4) Michigan on Friday were DJ Cooper and Reggie Keely.  Cooper netted a game-high 21 points for Ohio who was getting 5½-6 from the oddsmakers, while Keely came off the bench to score 10 and went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.  Those free throws were critical for a Bobcats team that made 15-of-17 of their foul shots and outscored the Wolverines by six from the free-throw line.

South Florida opened as a 6-point underdog to (5) Temple before the line closed at 3-3½.  The Bulls didn't need any points as it turned out, grounding the Owls with a 58-44 decision in a game that saw the teams combine for just 34 first-half points.  Anthony Collins and Victor Rudd Jr. each tallied 17 for South Florida who held Temple to 2-of-12 from beyond the arc.

College basketball betting lines have yet to be released for Sunday's contest, but expect the total to be the lowest on the 8-game NCAA Tournament schedule.  Both Friday contests for South Florida and Ohio paid off for 'under' bettors, and they are a combined 40-20 to the low side of totals this season.

Big East Meets ACC In Nashville Nightcap
The bad news was Florida State didn't get a single point from its leading scorer vs. St. Bonaventure.  The good news was the Seminoles still managed to get the dubya over the Bonnies.

Michael Snaer was the biggest beneficiary of FSU's rally from a 10-point deficit to beat (14) St. Bonaventure, 66-63.  Snaer missed all seven of his field goal attempts (0-for-5 from 3-point range).  Fortunately for Snaer and the 'Noles, Bernard James scored a season-high 19 and Luke Loucks had a solid all-around effort with 13 points, seven boards, six assists and three steals.

While Florida State was busy recovering to get past the Bonnies, Cincinnati was doing its best to quell a rally by (11) Texas.  The Bearcats stormed out of the gate to a 16-2 lead over the Longhorns, then held on for the 65-59 victory as 3-point favorites.  Yancy Gates posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Cincy attack.

Sunday's game opened with FSU favored by 2½; the total should be released shortly.

At the risk of looking ahead following such a carnage-filled Friday, we can't help it.  The winner will head to Boston for next week's East Regional where they'll take on the victor from Saturday's Gonzaga-Ohio State contest.  The Sweet 16 clash will take place at TD Garden on Thursday (March 22), and it sets up to be a Don Best grudge match between Pat Williams' Buckeyes and Kenny White's Seminoles.


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