Wednesday’s College Basketball Betting Odds & Picks: Cincinnati-Ohio State, Virginia-Syracuse
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Virginia Cavaliers guard Braxton Key (2).
- Cincinnati opens its season on the road as 5.5-point underdogs vs. 18th-ranked Ohio State, while 11th-ranked UVA (-3) heads to Syracuse to start season.
- Mike Randle previews both Wednesday matchups with analysis and picks for each game.
Wednesday brings us our first look at the defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers. Head coach Tony Bennett’s squad travels to Syracuse in a battle between two teams losing several starters from last season.
We also get our first look at another top 25 team in Ohio State. The Buckeyes open their doors to welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats under first-year head coach John Brannen.
Let’s take a look at who has the edge in these major conference battles.
- No. 18 Ohio State (-6) vs. Cincinnati — 8:30 p.m. ET
- No. 11 Virginia (-3) at Syracuse — 9 p.m. ET
Wednesday College Basketball Betting
Ohio State vs. Cincinnati Odds
- Spread: Ohio State -6
- Over/Under: 139.5
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- TV: FS1
Ohio State enters head coach Chris Holtmann’s third season poised for a strong year. The Buckeyes return a solid nucleus with a high-upside newcomer.
The Buckeyes feature junior center Kaleb Wesson (14.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG) who earned a spot on the Preseason All-Big Ten Team.
Redshirt junior CJ Walker is now eligible after transferring from Florida State. He started all but one game for the Seminoles during their Elite Eight run during the 2017-2018 season.
The newcomer to watch is freshman point guard D.J. Carton. The four-star prospect is the highest-rated recruit ever signed by Holtmann. Carton scored 15 points in an impressive exhibition performance last week.
The Buckeyes will continue their usual high level of defense after finishing 25th in the country in adjusted-defensive efficiency per KenPom.
Cincinnati will look very different on offense under first-year head coach John Brannen. Last season, Brannen guided Northern Kentucky to a 26-9 record and the 76th most efficient offense in the country.
The Bearcats will likely have the best player on the floor in senior Jarron Cumberland (18.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG) who was selected as the AAC preseason Player of the Year. However, Cumberland was the only Cincinnati player to average double-figures last season.
Cincinnati was not a strong betting road team last season, finishing 4-8-1 against the spread in true road games.
There will be some adjustment to such a drastic style difference between former Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin and Brannen. Cumberland is a talented scorer, but that will not be enough to upset a balanced and well-coached Ohio State team in their home opener.
I’m taking the Buckeyes to earn a comfortable win behind strong defense, a big game from Wesson, and the dynamic playmaking ability of Carton.
The Pick: Ohio State -6 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Virginia at Syracuse Odds
- Spread: Virginia -3
- Over/Under: 126
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- TV: ACCN
Tony Bennett led the Cavaliers to the national championship last season, completing an incredible bounce back from their historic first-round loss to UMBC in the NCAA Tournament just one year prior.
UVA lost its top three scorers in Kyle Guy, DeAndre Hunter, and Ty Jerome. However, they return enough from the school’s first national championship to remain optimistic.
Point guard Kihei Clark (4.5 PPG, 2.6 APG) should take a larger role and will be a huge presence on defense yet again. Senior Braxton Key (5.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG) is a versatile scorer who will pair with senior Mamadi Diakite (7.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG) to provide a strong all-around pair of forwards.
The under the radar breakout candidate is 7-foot-1 center Jay Huff, who averaged 5.4 PPG in conference play despite playing limited minutes.
Syracuse enters head coach Jim Boeheim’s 44th season losing four starters from last season while adding a five-player freshman class. The Orange will be young and inexperienced.
Junior Marek Dolezaj (4.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG), sophomore Jalen Carey (3.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG), and Buddy Boeheim (6.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG) are the foundation of a team that has suffered some embarrassing early-season losses over the past few seasons.
In 2017, Syracuse lost at home to St. Bonaventure and the Orange lost at home to unranked Old Dominion last season. Facing the defending national champions will be much more daunting.
The Cavaliers have won the last three regular-season matchups against Syracuse, including the last two at the Carrier Dome by an average of 20.5 points.
Syracuse is too inexperienced to earn the upset here, and Virginia’s pack-line defense is the most reliable unit in all of college basketball.
I’ll give the three points on the road and back Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers at Syracuse.
THE PICK: Virginia -3 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]