College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Wichita State vs. Cincinnati (Thursday, February 17)

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Wichita State vs. Cincinnati (Thursday, February 17) article feature image

Via Icon Sportswire/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyson Etienne

  • Wichita State faces Cincinnati on the road in an AAC clash on Thursday night.
  • The Bearcats have lost four of their last six, but they are home favorites against the Shockers.
  • College basketball betting analyst Tanner McGrath breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.

Wichita State vs. Cincinnati Odds

Thursday, Feb. 17
7 p.m. ET
Wichita State Odds
-110o / -110u
Cincinnati Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Two of the AAC's worst will match up in this Thursday night battle when Wichita State travels to Cincinnati.

Wichita State is fighting its way back into conference contention after starting AAC play 0-4. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is trying to bounce back after losing four of the last six games.

Cincinnati is laying 2.5 entering this game, but can we trust the Bearcats after this recent run?

Wichita State Shockers

I don't think Wichita is very good.

The season-long defense has been above-average, but the Shockers have dropped to sixth in conference-only Defensive Efficiency. The interior defense has been especially bad.

Offensively, everything runs through Tyson Etienne, who has flashed brilliance at times.


(via @GoShockersMBB)

— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) November 10, 2021

However, a season-long ORtg under 100 isn't great for a first-option scorer. He's shooting over 30% from outside the arc but also under 40% from inside the arc. And outside of usage, he doesn't grade out well in any statistical area.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

As a result, it's drug the whole offense down. The Shockers are now 180th nationally in Offensive Efficiency and 294th in eFG%. Wichita State doesn't even average 70 points per game.

The good news is the Shockers are young. They are sub-300 in average experience (1.33 years), and there's plenty of room to grow for Isaac Brown's squad.

But this is not Wichita's year.

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Cincinnati Bearcats

I really like how the Bearcats play defense.

Cincinnati holds its opponents to the 30th-lowest 3-point rate nationally. It funnels opposing offenses into the interior and then uses its length — the Bearcats center rotation runs 6-foot-11 and 7-foot-1 — to force opponents into tough shots.

As a result, Cinci's defense is top-25 in forcing 2-point jump shots (32.4%). By forcing long 2s, it keeps offenses inefficient — the Bearcats D is ninth in eFG% allowed (43.9%) and 2P% allowed (42.9%).

But the Bearcats are also excellent at defending those shots. Cinci ranks in the 99th percentile spot-up PPP allowed (.747), which includes grading out above the 90th percentile in defending right baseline 2-point jumpers and left elbow 2-point jumpers.

But even when opponents get a chance at the rim or from deep, it hasn't been that pretty either.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

However, like the Shockers, the offense is pretty brutal.

Wichita State vs. Cincinnati Betting Pick

In fact, the Shockers and Bearcats are very similar teams.

These are two solid defenses with bad offenses, and the two grade out similarly among the AAC teams.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

As a result, their records are very similar. Cincinnati is 6-6 in conference play while Wichita is 4-6. The Bearcats are 9-13 ATS this season while the Shockers are 10-13, and both are 4-6 ATS in the last 10 games.

Games between these two have also come down to the wire. The last five games between Wichita and Cinci have been decided by an average of 3 points — only one of those was decided by more than one possession.

Therefore, I don't see much value on either side with such a short spread.

I'd rather bet the under. Wichita and Cinci are two defensive-minded teams that are struggling offensively. The two are also very familiar with the opposing offenses, and three of the last four matchups have gone under the currently listed total as a result.

It's also worth mentioning both offenses are top-100 nationally in 3-point rate while both defenses have been solid at avoiding opposing 3-point shots. As mentioned, Cincinnati has been particularly good at funneling shooters to the interior, and I believe Etienne and co. will have a very tough time creating good looks against the Bearcat D.

This number opened at 133 but has been steamed all the way up to 135.5 at some books.

I'm fine with fading the steam in this spot as long as we can buy the under at 135 or above.

Pick: Under 135.5 (Play to 135)

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