Cincinnati vs SMU Odds & Prediction: Why to Back Bearcats

Cincinnati vs SMU Odds & Prediction: Why to Back Bearcats article feature image

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Landers Nolley II (Cincinnati)

Cincinnati vs SMU Odds

Saturday, Jan. 14
4 p.m. ET
Cincinnati Odds
-110o / -110u
SMU Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Cincinnati looks to avoid a bad loss in AAC play on Saturday afternoon as it's traveling to Dallas to play SMU.

The Bearcats have dropped a pair of AAC games (at Temple, vs. Houston) to own a 3-2 conference record.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs have struggled under first-year coach Rob Lanier, as they're sitting at 6-11 overall on the season and have lost four of the last five.

There's a key player who could be missing for the home team here, which has me believing the visitors could get a road win in this matchup.

Cincinnati Bearcats

Everything is still there to play for in this campaign for Cincinnati, including an outside chance of securing an invitation to the NCAA tournament with some big wins in AAC play.

The Bearcats rank inside the top 100 in both the NET and KenPom rankings. However, they're 0-4 against Quad 1 opponents.

Luckily for them, this should be a great opportunity for coach Wes Miller’s team to notch another victory to continue to build momentum into the bigger games on the schedule.

On the year, Miller’s squad has done a great job at not turning the ball over (23rd TO%), but there are not many other metrics that the Bearcats excel at.

Cincinnati is top 100 in AdjO (77) and 3-point shooting offensively, while also being solid in AdjD (69th) and EFG% (65th) defensively, according to Bart Torvik.

Individually, Landers Nolley II (15.0 PPG) and David DeJulius (14.7 PPG) are the two scoring leaders on the team, and they're joined by three others who average double figures.

Southern Methodist Mustangs

SMU just missed out on making the Big Dance last season, boasting a 24-9 record. After the AAC Player of the Year transferred and the program made a change at head coach, the momentum has not carried over into this season.

Lanier’s team has already lost more games than a year ago, and the Mustangs have not been very competitive in conference play. In the three losses, the average margin of defeat has been 25 points per game.

However, there have been good moments in Lanier’s debut campaign, including winning two of three games in the Diamond Head Classic over Iona and Utah State.

The Mustangs' only other victories this season came against Texas A&M-Commerce, Evansville, Lamar and Tulsa.

SMU has the opportunity to play spoiler, but this is going to be a very long season in the start of Lanier’s helm at the school.

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Cincinnati vs. SMU Betting Pick

I mentioned above that there could be a key player missing in this game, and SMU sophomore Zhuric Phelps would be a huge loss if he's absent once again. The point guard leads the team with 17.5 points per game and 26 steals, and I’m not sure the Mustangs can overcome his vacancy.

With that said, my best bet is to back Cincinnati to cover the spread of -4.5 or better.

Phelps did not play in the last two contests, which were a pair of losses to Tulane and UCF. The Mustangs failed to cover the spread in those two games, too.

This is also the same squad that has not played well at home this season.

At Moody Coliseum this year, SMU lost to New Mexico by 21, Louisiana in overtime, Jackson State as a 13-point favorite and Arizona State by 18. Lanier's squad is 2-6-1 ATS at home in his debut campaign.

If the leading scorer does suit up, I don’t love the bet as much, but this program under Lanier has not been good this season.

I’ll take my chances with a Bearcats squad that's looking to secure a place in postseason action.

Pick: Cincinnati -4.5 or Better

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