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Odds & Pick for Cincinnati vs. Temple College Basketball: Back Home Dogs to Reverse Recent History

Odds & Pick for Cincinnati vs. Temple College Basketball: Back Home Dogs to Reverse Recent History article feature image

Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Temple’s Jake Forrester.

  • Can Temple reverse its recent history with Cincinnati on Thursday, or will the Bearcats leverage their rivalry advantage to jumpstart a second-half surge?
  • Mike Randle previews this matchup and shares his betting pick below.

Cincinnati vs. Temple Odds

Cincinnati Odds
Temple Odds
Time | TV
Thursday, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Odds as of Wednesday Night and via BetMGM.

Cincinnati has dominated its recent AAC rivalry with Temple. The Bearcats have won five straight matchups, but the average margin of victory has only been five points per game. 

Temple enters this game ranked higher in the AAC and with a better overall record. The Owls are 4-5 overall and 3-5 in conference, sitting three spots ahead of the Bearcats.  

Can Temple reverse its recent history with Cincinnati, or will the Bearcats leverage their rivalry advantage to jumpstart a second-half surge?

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The Matchup

Cincinnati is finally playing again after dealing with multiple COVID quarantines. The Bearcats have not played since Jan. 10, when they faced Wichita State on the road.

So, who exactly are the 2020-21 Bearcats?

Last year, under head coach John Brannen, Cincinnati was a slow-paced but  efficient team on both ends of the floor. They ranked 199th in tempo, 59th in adjusted offense and 51st in adjusted defense. The Bearcats went 20-10 overall and finished in a three-way tie for first place in the AAC along with Houston and Tulsa.

This season, there exists a disconnect between Cincinnati’s overall and in-conference defensive efficiency. The Bearcats rank well nationally, but poor in AAC play.

Part of the cause is related to a change in their overall pace of play. The Bearcats have the 59th-fastest adjusted tempo, per KenPomThis year, they are actually the top tempo team in the AAC, but rank 10th in adjusted defensive efficiency. They also reside at the bottom of the league in effective field goal percentage defense, and allow opponents an AAC-worst 54.5% from 2P. 

The Bearcats have greatly improved on the defensive boards, ranking first in defensive rebounding among conference teams, and 55th-best overall. 

The key to the Cincinnati offense is senior guard Keith Williams (15 PPG, 4.2 RPG), who has double-digit points in eight of the past nine games. Sophomore guard Jeremiah Davenport (10.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG) and junior Michigan transfer David DeJulius (8.6 PPG, 5.3 APG) round out the foundation of their offensive attack. 

Meanwhile, Temple’s offense has been improved since freshman Khalif Battle recovered from an earlier hamstring injury. The four-star freshman scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Owls’ impressive home 76-67 win over Tulsa. 

Temple has an underrated group of scorers in Battle (12 PPG), Jake Forrester (10 PPG), and leading-scorer Damian Dunn (14.1 PPG). That trio is critical to a Temple offense that has season-long ranks of 314th in effective field goal percentage and 323rd in 2P percentage. 

The Owls should find scoring success at home against the Bearcats’ troubled defense, while providing strong interior resistance on the defensive end as well. Under head coach Aaron McKie, the Owls rank 47th-best in 2P% defense, the exact area where Cincinnati generates over 56% of their points (44th-most overall).

Temple is listed as a 2.5-point underdog at home. That is heavily affected by the Owls most recent 81-64 home loss to Tulane. Regardless, they should not be getting points against the second-to-last place team in the conference.

Temple is also due for better luck, as teams are shooting an AAC-best 72% from the free throw line against the Owls. A Bearcats team shooting just 67% from the charity stripe (270th overall), provides the perfect elixir.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The recent addition of Wyatt to the Temple lineup has provided McKie with another scoring option. The Owls strong interior defense will be a problem for a limited Cincinnati offense. If Dunn and Forrester can avoid foul trouble, the Owls have the advantage on both ends of the floor.

I’m taking Temple as a slight home underdog against a Cincinnati team lacking a true identity. I expect a similar performance to the Tulsa win for the Owls, who will look to end their five-game losing streak to the Bearcats.

Pick: Temple -2.5 | Play down to Temple +1.5

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