Cincinnati-UCF Betting Preview: Can Knights Take The Next Step?
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tacko Fall
All season long, we waited for UCF to earn a Quadrant I win. Losses at Memphis, at Cincinnati, and home against Houston came and went without the Knights getting that elusive victory.
But then came last Sunday in Houston.
The Knights not only grabbed a 69-64 win over the conference leader, but they also ended Houston’s nation-leading 33-game home win streak. It was among the biggest wins in school history.
Was it just one win, or a sign of things to come for UCF?
Let’s take a look at another Quadrant I win opportunity for the Knights when they host Cincinnati on Thursday.
Betting Odds: Cincinnati Bearcats at UCF Knights
- Spread: UCF -2.5
- Over/Under: 126
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
>> All odds as of 10 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.
Cincinnati (30-6) is in the midst of its third straight dominant season in the AAC. The Bearcats are 14-2 in conference this year following consecutive 16-2 AAC seasons. However, they have struggled against the spread, sitting at 10-15-1. This includes just a 3-7-1 record in true road games.
UCF (24-12) is getting hot at the perfect time. The Knights have won five straight games including three on the road. They are 16-9-1 overall against the spread including 7-0 ATS in their last seven AAC games.
Cincinnati can go through long scoring droughts, which has caused some of its ATS issues. In AAC conference play, the Bearcats rank 10th in effective field goal percentage and 11th in 2P%. The Bearcats are also a pedestrian 34.5% from 3P in AAC games.
The staple of the Bearcats’ success is their half-court defense. However, their help-and-recover principles always leave them vulnerable from beyond the arc. Look no further than Cincinnati’s epic collapse against Nevada in last year’s NCAA Tournament as a prime example. UCF took advantage of this in their first matchup, shooting 45% (9 of 20) from 3P against the Bearcats.
UCF brings an offensive and defensive balance that Cincinnati has rarely seen this season. The Knights are Top-50 in adjusted defensive efficiency and Top-40 in adjusted offensive efficiency. They have received fantastic play from 7-foot-6 senior Tacko Fall (11.3 ppg) who is averaging 18 points and 11.7 rebounds over his last three games.
The Knights also have the 3P shooters to beat the Cincinnati defense. Guards B.J. Taylor (16.3 ppg, 37.3% 3P) and Aubrey Dawkins (15.1 ppg, 39.1% 3P) are both dangerous long-distance shooters. Dawkins is shooting 54.1% (13 of 24) from deep over his last five games.
Cincinnati needed a late rally to pull out a 60-55 win at home on Feb. 21. UCF is in the perfect spot at home to continue this late-season streak. With a strong defense, hot three-point shooting, and Fall’s interior dominance, the Knights will grab another Quadrant I win at home.
Take the Knights and lay the 2.5 points in a late-season revenge spot at home.
The Pick: UCF -2.5