Thursday College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Cincinnati vs. SMU

Thursday College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Cincinnati vs. SMU article feature image

Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images. Pictured: Kendric Davis (SMU)

  • SMU hosts Cincinnati as 8.5-point favorites on Thursday night.
  • Should you back the Mustangs against a Bearcats team that has won 10 straight games against them?
  • Keg taps into this game and shares his best bet below.

Cincinnati vs. SMU Odds

Thursday, March 3
7 p.m. ET
Cincinnati Odds
-110o / -110u
SMU Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Cincinnati will finish its Texas swing and regular season on Thursday night in Dallas against SMU. The Bearcats started the year, hot with a 10-3 record before conference play, but impressive wins then (Georgia & a short-handed Illinois) have significantly decreased in value. With one game left, Cincinnati is 17-13 on the season, 7-10 in league play, and currently seventh in the American Athletic Conference.

The Mustangs, on the other hand, have had an outstanding season. SMU is second in the conference, currently 20-7 on the season and 11-4 in conference play. However, they Mustangs are coming off a loss to the only team that stood between them and a regular-season championship, Houston.

Houston beat SMU by 14 and Cincinnati by 17, but Cincinnati kept it close nearly the entire game. The Bearcats were down just four to the Cougars at halftime, but Houston managed to pull away in the second half. Bearcats betters suffered a brutal bad beat when Houston scored six unanswered over the last two minutes to cover the 15-point spread.

Unfortunately, having an exceptional first half only let it slowly slip away in the second and either give up the win or the cover has become a pattern from Cincinnati. Will it be more of the same in the last game of the season for the Bearcats?

They broke those bad habits earlier this season in the first meeting with SMU. The Mustangs came to Cincinnati on an eight-game winning streak, but SMU sure didn't look like a team who had beaten the likes of Dayton & Vanderbilt as they fell to the Bearcats 77-60.

Now the Bearcats will head to Dallas with a streak of their own, albeit a four-game losing stretch, but can they end it just as they did SMU's streak in the first meeting?

Cincinnati Bearcats

Over the last six years, Cincinnati is 8-5 in March, and the Bearcats' new coach Wes Miller has an impressive record of his own in March at 11-4 over the same period. But Miller's first year in Cincinnati, it would be an understatement to say it has been difficult.

Cincinnati still ranks 29th in the country in field goal defense and is second in conference play in limiting turnovers. The Bearcats' improvement on turnovers may be one of Miller's most considerable successes this year. Last season, Cincinnati gave the ball up on 20% of offensive possessions (258th nationally). This season, the Bearcats are 30th nationally with a 15.5% Turnover Rate.

David DeJulius has been the driving force for a Cincinnati offense that has been significantly lacking as a team. The Bearcats rank sixth in the conference in points per game and three-point shooting while being seventh in two-point percentage.

But it gets even worse. Only South Florida has been worse than Cincinnati from the charity stripe in the AAC. Nationally, the Bearcats rank 337th at the line at 66.3%.

While they can make some headway and limit SMU on the offensive end, holding the Mustangs to 70 points won't mean much if they can't score more than 61 – a number the Bearcats haven't surpassed in their last three games.

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Southern Methodist Mustangs

SMU has yet to lose a home game this year. Currently 14-0 with just two games left, will the Mustangs they finish off a perfect year at home? The Mustangs have been noticeably better at home, posting a +14.8 average scoring margin compared to their +7.2 on the season as a whole. One of their most prominent areas of Improvement at home compared to on the road comes from beyond the 3-point line.

SMU's 3-point shooting was one of many factors that led to its loss in the first meeting with Cincinnati. The Mustangs shot just 29.6% from deep in the first meeting, but at home this season, SMU is shooting 38.4% from beyond the arc.

Defensively, SMU matches up well with Cincinnati. The Bearcats offense has been struggling all year, and even more in the second half. SMU is last in the conference in both Turnover Rate and Steal Rate. However, the Bearcats struggle enough at getting points on their own, and I don't see that hindering SMU.

Cincinnati vs. SMU Betting Pick

SMU's loss to Houston closed the door on the regular season title, but the next best thing would be soundly beating this Cincinnati team. Not only did the Bearcats give them an embarrassing end to a strong win streak earlier this year, but Cincinnati has also dominated SMU in recent history.

Cincinnati leads the series 17-5 against SMU and is 15-4 against the Mustangs as members of the AAC. The Bearcats are also on a 10-game win streak against SMU. The Mustangs have not beaten Cincinnati in the regular season since February of 2017.

I think that comes to an end on Thursday night. Cincinnati has dominated historically, but SMU's performances at home this year, along with the revenge factor, is enough for me to back SMU in this one.

Pick: SMU -8.5 or better

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