Houston vs. Cincinnati Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Sunday, Jan. 8)

Houston vs. Cincinnati Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Sunday, Jan. 8) article feature image

Pictured: Houston Cougars forward Jarace Walker. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

  • Houston looks to remain undefeated in the AAC by facing off against Cincinnati on Sunday.
  • The Bearcats have struggled against top opponents this season, though.
  • Brett Pund dives into the matchup and offers up a best bet.

Houston vs. Cincinnati Odds

Sunday, Jan. 8
3 p.m. ET
Houston Odds
-110o / -110u
Cincinnati Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Sunday’s headliner in the American Athletic Conference features No. 2 Houston, a team looking to stay perfect in conference play, traveling to Cincinnati.

The Cougars are off to a 3-0 start in the AAC and have won their past six games.

Meanwhile, the Bearcats own a 2-1 conference record and a 9-1 mark at home, but this will be their toughest test of the season.

This should be a great contest between a pair of programs with a lot of history and tradition. So, let’s dive into both squads and see where the betting value lies.

Houston Cougars

When you look at the team Kelvin Sampson has assembled, there are not many negatives that stand out. This has the looks of another squad destined to make a deep run in March.

The Cougars are elite defensively, ranking inside the top five in the country in AdjD (2nd), EFG% (2nd), opponents’ 2-point % (5th) and 3-point defense (2nd).

On the offensive end of the floor, Houston also boasts great metrics in AdjO (9th) and offensive rebounding (1st), which makes the Cougars one of just five teams in the nation that is in the Top 25 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.

Sampson’s squad is led by guard Marcus Sasser, who averages 15.8 points per game to go along with three assists and 1.75 steals per contest. Tramon Mark is the other Cougars player who averages double figures with 10.1 PPG.

Cincinnati Bearcats

The second season under Wes Miller has been solid for Cincinnati, but the Bearcats are lacking a quality win on the resume.

The Bearcats are 0-3 against Quad 1 opponents, with losses to No. 5 Arizona, No. 24 Ohio State and rival No. 18 Xavier.

Miller’s team has solid advanced metrics to back its strong 11-5 record. However, they are not elite at anything, besides not turning the ball over (13th in TO%).

This is a great opportunity to secure a signature win, which could kickstart Cincinnati's season and a run in March.

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Houston vs. Cincinnati Betting Pick

Cincinnati hasn't picked up a win against the top opposition on its schedule, but the Bearcats have particularly struggled in the first half in those losses.

In those games against the Quad 1 opponents, Miller’s squad was losing at halftime in all three by an average margin of 12.7 PPG. Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s first AAC loss at Temple followed the same pattern as the Bearcats were down eight at the break.

Once you add in the fact that Houston is the best team in the country in the opening periods, it gives me a clear look at taking the Cougars on the first-half spread of anything at -6 or better.

Sampson’s team has also been impressive at the start of games on the road, with only Texas Tech having a better first-half average margin on the road.

The Cougars covered this same spread on the road at Oregon and on a neutral floor against Saint Mary’s. They also held a four-point lead at the break at No. 11 Virginia.

This has carried over into AAC play, with Houston leading at halftime in all three contests by an average of 17 points. The Cougars would have covered this spread in all three victories as well.

Sampson’s program will be challenged at one point in conference action, but I’m not expecting it here.

Pick: Houston 1H -6 or Better

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