February 18, 2016 (2:42 PM ET)
Take Cincinnati at +1 spread against Tulsa for 3% of the bankroll.
Cincinnati has had a solid season thus far and comes into this contest with a 19-7 overall record and are 9-4 in conference play, however this is a big game for the Bearcats as they are one of a number of AAC teams that are currently on the bubble in regards to getting an invitation to the Big Dance. The Bearcats come into this contest tonight on a three game winning streak and already hold a dominate 76-57 win over their opponents earlier this season.
The Bearcats are one of the top defensive teams in the country and just like in their first meeting; we expect that to be a problem for the Hurricanes in this contest. They are holding opposing offenses to just an average of 61.5 points per game on 39% shooting from the floor which ranks them 9th and 13th in the nation respectively. They have held their last 5 conference opponents to under 63 points. The Bearcats also have a very active backcourt which forces an average of 14.4 turnovers per game. The Bearcats players have also been solid on the glass averaging 38.9 rebounds per game which ranks them in the top 48 in the country. The fact that the Bearcats have played fundamentally sound basketball is a big reason for their success year in and year out and they are one of the few teams in the country who's defensive numbers actually improve when on the highway.
The Cincinnati offense is also much improved from year's past and they have actually become a force on the offensive end of the ball. This is a team that is peaking at the right moment and come into this contest having won 6 of their past 7 games and that is thanks in part to the rise of sophomore forward Gary Clark. Clark has recorded three double-doubles in his last four outings and is currently shooting a blistering 59.1% from the field. He could be in for another big night tonight. The Bearcats also have 4 players who average double digits and have shown that on any given night any one of these players can step up and take control of the game.
Tulsa is having a very respectable season themselves; however they have shown that they are somewhat of a one dimensional team. Guards James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison combine for 31.1 points per game, making them the highest-scoring duo in the AAC. They also lead the team in rebounding, with Harrison pulling down 5.4 boards per contest and Woodward corralling 5.1 per game. The key to slowing down Tulsa is to limit the production of their guards. Unlike their counterparts, they do not have the depth needed to success when their stars struggle. Given how smothering the Cincinnati defense can be, we expect one if not both guards to struggle trying to navigate this defense.
We don't believe that much has changed since the first meeting between these two teams. Cincinnati has all of the fundamental tools necessary to pull off this win on the road. While we expect a much closely contested contest this time around, we expect the Bearcats defense to come up with a couple critical stops late and come away with a very important victory.
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