Betting Cincinnati-Ohio State: Can Buckeyes Handle the Bearcats’ Press?

Betting Cincinnati-Ohio State: Can Buckeyes Handle the Bearcats’ Press? article feature image

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cincinnati Bearcats Jarron Cumberland

  • Here's how you should bet a top-25 college basketball showdown between Cincinnati (-5.5) and Ohio State (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
  • In a matchup of two teams with a lot of new faces, which team will have the early season upper hand?

What an opening night of college basketball betting, especially in the Champions Classic. Despite Kansas’ near-meltdown against Michigan State, Jayhawks freshman guard Quentin Grimes posted a game-high 21 points with six 3s in their 92-87 win.

More importantly for bettors, Grimes split a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to decide the cover in a game that most either bet at Kansas -4.5 of -5.5.

Duke (+1.5) backers didn’t need any such sweat, thanks to Zion Williamson and his freshmen friends. The 6-foot-7, 285-pound phenom totaled 28 points with a 30% Possession Rate — the second-highest behind R.J. Barrett, who scored a game-high 39 points.

We have a much smaller Wednesday encore slate, but we do get a top-25 matchup between Ohio State and Cincinnati. Let’s take a closer look at that matchup.

Ohio State at Cincinnati -5.5 | O/U: 137.5

6 p.m. ET on ESPN2

The Bearcats will host the Buckeyes in the first regular season meeting of the in-state foes since 1921. The two programs did match up in the 2012 Sweet 16, where then-Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger got the best of Cincy.

This year’s meeting will feature two teams with plenty of fresh faces. Ohio State lost four seniors in Keita Bates-Diop, Jae’Sean Tate, Andrew Dakich and Kam Williams. Meanwhile, Cincinnati enters the season without three of its top scorers from 2017-18 in Jacob Evans, Gary Clark and Kyle Washington.

Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin mentioned in the offseason he wants to ramp up the press this season to better fit his personnel, hoping to create more transition opportunities for a group that lacks the same shooting punch compared to last year’s team. The Bearcats were absolutely lethal when they pressed last year and possess the speed and athleticism to match that effectiveness in 2018.

So, how will this this increased defensive pressure work against Ohio State?

It all starts at point guard, where turnover-prone C.J. Jackson may struggle a season after posing an unimpressive 1.79 assist to turnover ratio, which ranked 179th nationally. Jackson also really struggled against extended full court pressure last season.

The Buckeyes also lack reliable depth at the position. Cincinnati’s press should ultimately be productive, which should open up some opportunities in transition for guard Caleb Broom.

On the inside, 6-foot-11, 240-pound Nysier Brooks can contain Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson. Cincy has the potential to have one of the best interior defenses in the country.

This is a plus-matchup for Cincinnati, which can cause problems with its press and match Ohio State’s size inside. The Bearcats have some pieces that can quickly help fill the void left by their offseason departures, starting with No. 1 scoring option Jarron Cumberland and JUCO transfer Rashawn Fredericks.

In regards to the total, Cincy wants to pick up the pace and Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann always encourages his team to get out in transition. Aim for over 137.5 or pass.

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