SMU Mustangs (15-16) (13-17-1 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (25-6) (12-19 ATS)
NCAA BB: Friday, March 15th, 2019 at 7:00 pm ET (FedExForum, Memphis, TN)
Line and Odds: Cincinnati -7.5, O/U 131.5
It’s the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference tournament as the #2 seeded Cincinnati Bearcats face the #10 seeded Southern Methodist Mustangs. Whoever wins advances to face either Wichita State or Temple. This will be the third meeting between these foes.
SMU’s fortunate to be winning again. This after being served around a dozen AAC beat downs. In the AAC, they’ve only beat five total teams. But now, they’ve won two in a row, including a first round win over Tulsa, and have Cincy at their doorstep–a team they came close to overcoming in the regular season, twice. The two combined losses only have a scoring differential of seven points. The two games were about runs that SMU had but couldn’t sustain. Both games were literal climatic battles, especially the first as eight total players scored in double figures–four to each team. The problem SMU’s given Cincy is guard Jahmal McMurray who’s averaged 24.8 PPG in the contests including 11 made 3’s on 24 shots.
Something SMU’s had trouble with is injuries which has played factor to their riggid season. McMurray will be in tact for this game and leads the team in scoring with 18.13 PPG. Down low, it’s forward Ethan Chargois, who’s been healthy all year and is in charge of rebounding duties with 6.3 RPG. He is the second leading average scorer with 12.52 PPG. Fellow guard Jimmy Whitt Jr. has dealt with his share of injuries but his status is active. He leads the team in passing with 4.03 APG and clocks in as the next leading scorer with 11.93 PPG. The numbers, however, don’t reflect on how average this team is offensively and defensively. With the ball, they shoot 51.0% in effective FG’s, good for 159th, nationally. And in adjusted defensive efficency, Kenpom has them at 106.0, good for 212th, nationally.
The Cincinnati Bearcats left big prints with their paws this season. They never had a streak of three consecutive defeats and just dominated anybody who seemed inferior. They only trail Houston in the AAC and there’s reason why. Houston is the only team to dismantle Cincy and did it twice. UCF also bested the ‘Cats a game prior. That’s two mid-major greats in their conference they couldn’t outlast and it happened to be their last two regular season games. This is clue to why the AP has them barely inside their top 25 rankings and Kenpom thinks they’re the 36th best team while disregarding their astonishing record. It’s because they’ve struggled mostly to outmatch the premier teams.
It’s a possibility the offense is what’s slowing Cincy down as they’re #183 in average points and only put up 71.6 PPG. Seven out of their last nine games have fallen under predicted score totals which helps explain why Cincinnati has edged each opponent by small margins in their last several games. The team’s got Jaron Cumberland (18.35 PPG, 4.39 RPG, 40.4 3P%) as their leader with his outstanding averages. Next in line to average at least double digits in points is guard Keith Williams (10.58 PPG, 3.15 RPG, 45.5 FG%). There are four more players on top of them who average a little over eight points per. With the slow pace, the defense has kept teams at bay especially in those close margins. They only allow 62.0 PPG with a +9.7 scoring advantage over opponents. And these ‘Cats allow the 11th least FGM/game.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
SMU is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
3-7 SU in its last 10 duels with Cincy
3-0 ATS in its last 3 matchups with Cincy
Cincy is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games
1-9 ATS in its last 10 contests
1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss
5-0 SU in its last 5 games versus SMU
Usually when there’s a third act, deviations and outliers can occur (see Secretariat). Stick it to Vegas and the computers, rather, as their spread consensus has Natti covering the -7.5 spread, and bet the other way. Because they think Cincy is going to finally figure out their opponent while you can surely see from above that SMU could have easily swept the season series and thus moved the lines the other way. Also, look at that Cincy spread trend above; now look at the Mustangs’. One thing I believe will differ though is the o/u. Recently, Natti has rarely hit any overs but they’ll finally get over, because SMU, who has been contrarily hitting overs is going to push them to the brink in efforts to finally get that win and advance.