March 2, 2017
There is one pick tonight.
Take Houston +8 spread against Cincinnati for 3% of the bankroll.
The Cincinnati Bearcats are coming off a somewhat surprising road loss to the UCF Knights, 53-49 in their last contest. Even with a 15-2 conference record this season, that loss to Central Florida likely slammed the door on their chances to take home the AAC regular season title as they now sit a game behind SMU for the division lead. With a regular season title likely out of their grasp, the question must be asked as to how motivated they will be in this contest. While they are at home and hold a decisive advantage, they are still being asked to cover a lot of points and that might be too tall of a task to handle.
While the Bearcats struggled in their last contest, the Houston Cougars, on the other hand, come into this game with quite a bit of momentum having won 7 of their last 8 games. Despite their recent success, they are currently on the bubble in terms of making the NCAA Tournament this season, however a win over the Bearcats tonight would likely cement their place in the round of 64. This is an extremely important game for this Houston team and we expect the extra added motivation for this contest will help them put forth an strong effort to pull off the outright upset.
The Cougars have relied heavily on their defense this season and are currently 30th in the nation in scoring defense, surrendering just 64.6 points per contest this season. We find it interesting that the oddsmakers have listed this as a fairly low total, given that Cincinnati has produced an average of over 80 points per game on their home floor this season. It looks as if they believe this game is going to be played at a methodical pace with points coming at a premium. If that is indeed the case, that is certainly the type of game that plays to Houston's strength and will likely make it tougher for the Bearcats to pull away on the scoreboard.
On the offensive side of the ball the Cougars feature two of the best players in the AAC in Rob Gray and Dampen Dotson who combine for an average of 38.3 points per game and 10.7 rebounds. Three-point shooting has also been a strength of this Cougars offense as they are the best long-range shooting team in the conference, making an average of 40% of their shots from deep. With that type of accurate perimeter shooting, it doesn't take much for a team to chew into a lead or even sneak in for a backdoor cover.
We believe this line is slightly inflated simply because the Bearcats are off a tough loss and this is also senior night in Cincinnati. While those are two strong factors heading into this contest, it does not necessarily mean that the Bearcats are going win this game by a large margin. Houston is playing arguably their best basketball of the season and their 3-point shooting and stellar defense should be enough to keep them in this ballgame and well within the generous spread. Cincinnati may get the win, but Houston gets the cover.
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