Odds & Pick for Cincinnati vs. Wichita State Basketball: Back the Surging Shockers Offense
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tyson Etienne
- Wichita State hosts its first AAC game of the season Sunday when it takes on Cincinnati.
- How will the Shockers fare against a tough, defensive Cincinnati team coming off an impressive 7-point road win at SMU?
- Mike Randle previews Sunday's game and shares his betting pick below.
Cincinnati vs. Wichita State Odds
After an offseason of turmoil, Wichita State entered the year with lower than usual expectations. The sudden dismissal of Gregg Marshall and a litany of transfers led to a projected seventh-place finish in the American Athletic Conference.
However, first-year head coach Isaac Brown has the Shockers at a surprising 6-3 record, including a 2-1 conference mark with road wins over Tulsa and South Florida.
How will the Shockers fare against a tough, defensive Cincinnati team coming off an impressive seven-point road win at SMU?
Wichita State has excelled at protecting the basketball, ranking 27th in Offensive Turnover Percentage per KenPom. The Shockers’ 11.8 turnovers per game ranks 58th nationally and first inside AAC play. They rank among the top teams in the country in fewest steals and blocks by opponents.
The Shockers struggle with offensive efficiency, shooting just 44% from inside the arc, a number that is down to 42.9% in conference play. Wichita State’s ability to generate points from beyond the arc will be critical, as 31.9% of their points come from deep (122nd in the country).
The leader of the Shockers’ offense is sophomore Tyson Etienne, who is averaging 17.9 points and making 37.8% of his 3-point attempts. Etienne has been on fire over the past two games with 54 total points, making 9 of 19 shots from deep.
The Shockers have received a huge boost from junior guard Dexter Dennis (8.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds), who has 10 or more points in each of the past three games.
Cincinnati’s success is predicated on its defense. The Bearcats rank 57th nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per KenPom. However, they have struggled mightily in conference play, ranking just 10th in the AAC in Overall Defensive Efficiency and allowing opponents to shoot 55% on 2-point field goals, which is also 10th.
The Bearcats have also struggled on offense, shooting only 28.1% (303rd) from beyond the arc. They are also shooting just 66.9% as a team from the free throw line.
In their road loss at UCF, they shot just five of 19 from beyond the arc. Cincinnati will need to defend at a high level and find a way to generate consistent high-quality offensive opportunities.
The Bearcats’ offense is led by senior Keith Williams (15.1 points) and sophomore Jeremiah Davenport (10.6 points). Williams has been Mr. Consistent for the Bearcats, with double-digit scoring in five consecutive games.
In Cincinnati’s 76-69 road win at SMU, Davenport was exceptional with 19 points, nine rebounds, and shooting 3 of 8 from 3-point land.
Michigan transfer David DeJulius (7.8 points) does everything for the Bearcats, adding 4.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.
The Bearcats are a deep team with nine players averaging at least 10 minutes per game. However, they struggle to protect the ball with three players averaging two or more turnovers per game.
This projects as an intense defensive battle against a tough Wichita State team, so can the Bearcats provide another strong effort coming off their taxing road win at SMU on Thursday?
Betting Analysis & Pick
This is the first AAC home game for a Wichita State team that was winning at Houston by six points.
The Shockers are 4-2-1 against the spread (ATS) this season, with four consecutive covers. Including their three-point push at home against Oklahoma State, Wichita State’s last ATS loss was on Dec. 6.
The Bearcats are just 2-7 ATS and just completed that hard-fought comeback at SMU. As one of the best annual teams in the AAC, they will get Wichita State’s best effort.
Cincinnati’s defense is not at the usual standard, and the Bearcats’ struggles from beyond the arc and at the free throw line are a bad omen as a road underdog in conference.
I’m taking Wichita State to cover the small spread in their home opener.
Pick: Wichita State -2.5 (up to -3)