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The Layup Line: Central Florida Part Deux

I'm live from Orlando this week. Be jealous.

Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

After yesterday's climb in temperature, it might as well be spring in Cincinnati. Old man winter appears to have packed his bags, and the snow's melting fast. But when the pilot mentioned the temperature in Orlando was 81 degrees before landing yesterday, I didn't think twice about whatever new warmth you're experiencing in Cincinnati.

Perks of the job, I guess.

Alright - full disclosure - I'm actually in Orlando for my day job this week, but it just so happened to coincide with the Bearcats taking on Central Florida (10-13) down here in the Sunshine State. I didn't plan it this way on purpose; literally just luck of the draw.

In any event, I might not be able to attend the game in person thanks to a few already-scheduled work functions. As soon as Matt increases my pay here, I'll tell my daytime boss that I'll be attending Bearcat games at my leisure.

(And in case you're reading this, bossman, I'm obviously being sarcastic. I think.)

  • Game: Wednesday, February 19, 2014; 7:00pm EST
  • Location: CFE Arena; Orlando, FL
  • TV/Radio: ESPNU; 700 WLW

In the last UCF game preview, I really didn't give the Knights a chance. And the Bearcats rolled to an 18 point victory. Central Florida could upset the Bearcats on Wednesday, sure, but it'll take an unbelievable effort.

After losing 9 in a row, the Knights just beat rival USF by 1 this past weekend. Overall, Central Florida has 2 AAC victories. Total. I've had a penchant for picking the Bearcats to get upset from time-to-time, but I don't think this is one of those occasions - and here's why:

  1. In conference play, the Knights have just one double-digit scorer, Isaiah Sykes (#03).
  2. UCF has the second-worst turnover margin (-1.29) in the AAC.
  3. And UCF has the second-worst FG defense in the conference.
The Knights still rebound pretty well, but so do the Bearcats. Cincinnati didn't fare so well in their last road contest (@ SMU), but this one'll be different...

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Foul the Knights. Maybe not on purpose, but this team is still terrible from the free throw stripe - 60% on the year. No easy buckets for UCF means blocked shots and turnovers for the Bearcats.
  • Rebound on Offense. The Bearcats' offense doesn't always travel. Hell, it doesn't always show up at home - but cleaning the offensive glass would help tremendously. Central Florida is 3rd in the conference in rebounding margin, so this won't be easy.
  • Hold their 3's to under 35%. The Knights average 33% from downtown, and the 'Cats held them to 28% earlier this year. If UCF doesn't go crazy from deep, I like the Bearcats on the road.
My prediction: The Bearcats survive an early scare in Orlando, and go on to ice the game in the end. Shaq Thomas continues his momentum in a big way, and Cincinnati stays in the top ten before their showdown against Louisville this weekend: 'Cats win 64-55.