Cincinnati-Houston Betting Preview: Which Team Grabs Control of AAC?

Cincinnati-Houston Betting Preview: Which Team Grabs Control of AAC? article feature image

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Cincinnati Bearcats forward Tre Scott (13), Houston Cougars guard Corey Davis Jr. (5).

Only three ranked teams are in action during Sunday’s college basketball docket, but two of them are facing off down south. No. 12 Houston faces No. 25 Cincinnati in a battle for first in the American Athletic Conference.

What’s the best way to bet this critical matchup? Let’s break it down.

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

Betting Odds: Cincinnati Bearcats at Houston Cougars

  • Spread: Houston -5
  • Over/Under: 133.5
  • Time:  4 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

The Cougars (15-7-1 against the spread) have covered in five of their past six games while owning a 22-1 outright record. Meanwhile, the Bearcats (12-11 ATS) have done so in three of their past four affairs after failing to cover in four consecutive contests.

Both units are two of the top defensive teams in the country, owning the 11th- and 33rd-ranked Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, respectively. But Kelvin Sampson’s crew owns an advantage with its perimeter offense, as Cincinnati has yielded the eighth-highest scoring rate (40.0%) from behind the arc. The Bearcats also allow a below-average 35.9% three-point clip.

Houston’s 35.1% 3-point clip doesn’t stand out, but it has amassed the 56th-highest shot rate (43.9%) from the perimeter while producing the 90th-highest scoring scoring rate (35.2%) from that vicinity.

The Cougars’ motion attack, led by Armani Brooks (39.0%) will find success against the Bearcats’ occasional pressure defense.

At the other end, Mick Cronin’s bunch has relied on getting into the lane via the 105th-highest two-point scoring rate (51.7%) in the country. But Houston has let up the 12th-lowest two-point scoring percentage (43.9%), a credit to its sound ball pressure. Look for the Bearcats to struggle to find room on the dribble drive.

Moreover, Cougars’ interior defense has been just as dominant throughout their AAC slate as well, yielding the lowest two-point percentage (44.3%).

The under is 2-3 (40.0%) in Houston’s five conference home games, but each program runs their respective offenses at sluggish paces, especially Cincinnati’s 13th-lowest Adjusted Tempo (63.2 possessions per 40 minutes) in Division I. This one should be a fairly low-scoring affair, given their elite defenses as well.

According to our Bet Labs data, Houston is 7-1 (87.5%) ATS as a single-digit favorite this season. Expect that trend to continue that trend on Sunday afternoon.

THE PICKS: Houston -5; Under 133.5