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College Basketball Bettings Odds & Pick for Cincinnati vs. Houston: How To Bet the AAC Championship (Sunday, March 14)

College Basketball Bettings Odds & Pick for Cincinnati vs. Houston: How To Bet the AAC Championship (Sunday, March 14) article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Houston Cougars star Quentin Grimes.

  • Cincinnati hopes to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a win over Houston in Sunday's AAC Championship game.
  • These squads battled earlier this season, with the Cougars cruising to a 90-52 blowout victory.
  • Andrew Norton explains why he likes Houston to cruise and cover the 13-point spread below.

American Athletic Conference Championship

Cincinnati vs. Houston

Cincinnati Odds +13
Houston Odds -13
Moneyline +700 / -1115
Over/Under 137
Time | TV 3:15 p.m. ET | ESPN
Odds as of Sunday morning and via DraftKings.

The American Athletic Conference tournament wraps up Sunday with No. 2 seed Houston facing fifth-seeded Cincinnati in the championship.

The game, which tips off at 3:15 p.m. ET, will decide whether the Bearcats makes the “Big Dance” or if the Cougars can end their dream run entering the highly anticipate March showcase. These teams faced each other once earlier this season, with Houston cruising to a 90-52 blowout win.

Cincinnati has been quite the surprise of the tournament thus far. The Bearcats took down SMU via a 74-71 victory and followed that performance with a suspenseful, 60-59 win over Wichita State.

The line for this contest currently sits at Houston -13, and despite that being a big number for a conference finale, I still like the favorite in this spot.

Cincinnati Bearcats (12-10, 8-6 AAC)

Most college basketball fans were expecting a Houston-Wichita State rematch, but the Bearcats canceled that date with destiny — on the Shockers’ behalf — and formulated their own.

Now, we are experiencing a bit of magic.

After dropping two of their final four regular-season conference games, Cincinnati squeaked by in both tournament contests. Now, the Bearcats will attempt to knock off a Top-10 team for their fourth consecutive win and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Bearcats are led by Keith Williams, their 6-foot-5 senior guard. Williams averages right around 15 points per game. For a team that doesn’t score much, it’s important he gets going offensively.

Other major contributors include Jeremiah Davenport (12 points/five rebounds), David Dejulius, Mika Adams-Woods and Tari Eason, who average 9.5 ppg, 8.7 ppg, and 7.2 ppg, respectively.

The most notable dynamic about this team is certainly its size. They have a 6-foot-7 guard and multiple 6-foot-5 guards. All of that size is capped off by  7-foot-1 senior center Chris Vogt.

Cincinnati’s Achilles heel comes with the fact it has been abysmal against the spread, which is the exact opposite of Houston’s experience thus far. The Bearcats are 8-14 ATS, and towards the bottom in the nation, with only 30 teams worse percentage-wise in the category.

The Bearcats’ biggest disadvantages when facing the Cougars are their lack of superior rebounding and scoring, as they rank 105th in total team rebounding percentage and 194th in points per game, per Team Rankings.

Houston Cougars (23-3, 14-3 AAC)

What is there left to say about this team? The Cougars are mentally tough, well-coached, physical and an all-around talented outfit. Bottom line, this isn’t a team anyone wants to see in the NCAA tournament.

Houston beat a tough — and extremely underrated — Memphis team for the second time inside a week. The Cougars have the maturity to finish close games, barely squeaking by both times, but everyone knows what basketball in March is all about: surviving and advancing.

Quentin Grimes leads the charge, averaging 17.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Houston has a substantial amount of other players who can pour it on offensively at any given moment, and all of them can rebound, especially senior forward Justin Gorham, who averages more than nine rebounds a game.

The fact that Grimes averages such a high amount of rebounds from the guard position is an indication of how much this team values crashing the boards.

As I’ve noted in prior works, Houston is not exceptionally sized. Its tallest player is listed at 6-foot-8 inches. This just proves its overall tenacity on the boards, and is reflected in its defensive intensity as well.

All things considered, Houston is one of the best covering teams in the nation with a record of 17-8 ATS. More importantly, the past eight times Houston has been favored by 13 or more they have covered in seven of those games.

Betting Analysis & Pick

From purely the eye test, you’d think that the Bearcats might match up well with the Cougars based on their height. However, the Bearcats were out-rebounded by a 44-24 margin in their previous meeting.

Despite the fact Cincinnati is by no means a bad rebounding team, I’m not quite sure a team that got out-rebounded by a margin of 20 the first time around is going to do much better.

What can really change that would close that gap substantially?This game certainly won’t be a 38-point margin, because Cincinnati is a much, much better team now than it was back in January, but so is Houston.

Expect a healthy cover from Houston in the 18- to 22-point range.

Pick: Houston-13

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