UCF vs. Temple Odds, Picks, Predictions Bet the Home Dog in AAC Play (Wednesday, Dec. 15)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Jahlil White
- Both UCF and Temple open up AAC play with a duel in Philadelphia.
- The Knights have lost only two games this season -- to Oklahoma and Auburn -- while the Owls have been extremely streaky.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the clash and offers up his best bet.
UCF vs. Temple Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Conference play for the AAC doesn’t quite get fully underway until January, but UCF and Temple will get a taste of conference action on Wednesday night as the Knights travel to the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia to take on the Owls.
The Knights have had a solid start to the season in the nonconference. They picked up an impressive road win at Miami in the first week of the season and beat everyone they were supposed to beat. The Knights did lose at home to Oklahoma by three and at Auburn but have beaten the rest of the mid-to-low majors on the nonconference slate.
It’s a tricky spot for UCF with a neutral court matchup with in-state rival Florida State looming on Saturday, but the Knights probably won’t be overlooking their first conference game of the season.
The Owls struggled to begin the season with three losses in four games but built some positive momentum with five straight wins entering last weekend. A terrible road loss to Big 5 rival St. Joe’s on Saturday puts them in a good spot to bounce back on Wednesday night.
Year six of the Johnny Dawkins era in Orlando and the Knights entered the season poised to have a good shot at the NCAA Tournament come March. But that early season road win at Miami is looking less and less impressive, and a home loss to Oklahoma was a real missed opportunity to add a statement win as a mid-major.
This is the kind of game the Knights can’t lose, a conference road game against a struggling Temple program. The Knights aren’t quite as good offensively as their Effective Field Goal percentage suggests, and some regression is coming.
According to ShotQuality, the Knights rank middle of the country in Rim Rate and 3-pt Rate and 142nd in Schedule-Adjusted Offensive Shot Quality. The offense has benefitted from playing five games against teams ranked outside the KenPom top 230, all at home except Evansville.
The 3-point shooting numbers seem about right for them, but UCF is finishing a ton more shots around the rim this year when compared to last season, per Haslametrics. The question is if this is more of a product of high minutes continuity from last year or a really weak schedule of opponents who couldn’t protect the rim at all.
The Knights’ average possession length thus far is among the shortest in the country, which leads me to believe that opponents offered very little resistance and allowed them to get out in transition off turnovers.
That will be difficult on Wednesday night as Temple forces opposing offenses to play slower, work to get good shots and doesn’t turn it over on offense all that much.
The Owls were dealt a brutal blow when sophomore guard Khalif Battle was ruled out for the season with a foot injury. He had taken a significant leap forward in his third year of college and second year in North Philly.
However, the Owls have now played three games without him and proven they can win a big road game without him when TU beat Vanderbilt in overtime. The Owls have some length and guard the interior relatively well, both of which are important against a UCF team that has had a ton of success scoring at the rim.
Between Nick Jourdain and Jake Forrester, the Owls have two legitimate shot blocking and altering players who split time in the middle of the Temple defense. The Owls go six-foot-five or taller across the entire front line, and given that they were able to matchup size wise with USC early in the season, the UCF front court shouldn’t overwhelm them at all.
ShotQuality grades out the Temple defense as the best of the four units in this game, and the numbers suggest they’ve been a bit unlucky defensively with how well opponents have shot 3s against them.
The Owls defense will have to be at its best without Battle from now on, and they do match up pretty well with the Knights offense.
For Temple’s offense, they live at the free throw line, and UCF is just 197th in Defensive Foul Rate. Free throws will be a needed avenue for the Owls to keep this game close.
UCF vs. Temple Betting Pick
The spread is inflated at 4.5 based on the Owls’ poor showing in their rivalry game with St. Joe’s on Saturday. Temple was in a bad spot off a huge road win at Vanderbilt, and Aaron McKie’s team was actually showing legitimate improvement prior to Saturday’s hiccup.
The Owls have the length to bother UCF much more on the interior than the Knights’ previous opponents. TU can slow down UCF from running in transition and getting easy looks, and the Knights are also overvalued off of some cupcake victories in the nonconference thus far.
Temple may not be able to shoot at all from the perimeter, but the Owls can expose UCF’s porous interior defense. Even without Battle, who had carried this Temple offense through parts of the season, take the Owls at home catching multiple possessions in what should be a tight game down to the wire.
Pick: Temple +4.5 (play to +4)