Thursday’s College Basketball Betting Preview: Cincinnati-Memphis, Washington-Arizona

Thursday’s College Basketball Betting Preview: Cincinnati-Memphis, Washington-Arizona article feature image

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Memphis Tigers guard Tyler Harris (1) and head coach Penny Hardaway look on during the second half at FedExForum.

Just four ranked teams are in action in Thursday’s slate, but there are plenty of sneaky good matchups.

Among them, No. 25 Cincinnati travels to Memphis while unranked Washington — undefeated in Pac-12 play — squares off against Arizona.

Which sides present the most value? Let’s break them down.

>> All odds as of Wednesday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and track your bets.

Betting Odds: Cincinnati Bearcats at Memphis Tigers

  • Spread: Cincinnati -3
  • Over/Under: 149
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

The Bearcats (11-11 against the spread) have failed to cover in five of their past eight contests — two of them coming on the road. Meanwhile, the Tigers (11-11 ATS) haven’t covered in six of their past eight affairs.

Memphis is 10-5 ATS at home this season despite their recent woes, and utilizing the sixth-highest Adjusted Tempo (75.6 possessions per 40 minutes) will be key against one of the slowest-paced teams in the nation.

Tigers coach Penny Hardaway’s offense owns an advantage against Cincinnati in the lane, amassing the 44th-highest free-throw rate (39.0%) in the country. The Bearcats are yielding the 123rd-highest rate in that department (35.2%) across the country.

Memphis faced a 25-point first-half deficit at South Florida before nearly staging a miraculous comeback in a six-point loss. I’m expecting Haradway’s squad to come out extra aggressive in this conference showdown, guided by the likes of leading-scorer Jeremiah Martin (50.6% free-throw rate).

Moreover, Cincinnati’s matchup zone and man-to-man defense, respectively, hinders their oppositions from scoring inside the arc. But it’s allowing the ninth-highest scoring rate (39.7%) from 3-point land. The Tigers are beginning to refine their perimeter offense, shooting 35.1% from deep over their past three games.

Bet on a trap game for the Bearcats before their duel with No. 12 Houston on Sunday.

THE PICK: Memphis +3

Betting Odds: Washington Huskies at Arizona Wildcats

  • Spread: Washington -2
  • Over/Under: 133
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

The Huskies (13-8-1) have tacked on nine consecutive covers — all of them outright wins. On the flip side, the Wildcats (10-11-1 ATS) have dropped three consecutive contests and five of their past eight overall.

The most critical storyline heading into the contest is the health of forward Noah Dickerson (12.7 points per game), who suffered a sprained right ankle in Washington’s 14-point win over UCLA on Saturday. Huskies coach Mike Hopkins listed him as day-to-day on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-8 Dickerson gives his teammates more space to play inside-out, leading to Washington’s conference-high 41.7% clip from the perimeter. The Huskies have totaled the league’s third-highest scoring percentage (35.1%) from that vicinity, too. Arizona has let up the fifth-lowest scoring rate from 3-point territory during conference play, though.

Even if the senior big suits up, the Huskies have struggled to limit their miscues, manufacturing the fourth-highest turnover rate (20.7%) in Pac-12 play. Given the Wildcats’ sturdy ball pressure, totaling the third-highest opponents’ turnover percentage (20.7%) amid their conference docket, expect Arizona to produce a slower tempo and control it in the process.

Dissecting Washington’s 2-3 zone will be a formidable task, especially with Wildcats point guard Brandon Williams (knee) out. But the 5-foot-10 Justin Coleman still gives Arizona a lead ball handler, setting up Brandon Randolph (15.0 ppg) and Chase Jeter (12.4 ppg) to sift into the middle of the Huskies’ zone — where it’s been most susceptible.

Fade the Huskies in Tucson, where they’ve lost their past four games.

THE PICK: Arizona +2