Cincinnati Bearcats vs. SMU Mustangs Betting Preview
Where: XL Center — Hartford, CT
When: Sunday, March 12, 2017 – 2:15 PM ET
TV Broadcast: ESPN
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Betting on the Cincinnati Bearcats (29-4, 16-2 AAC)
Cincinnati barged into the finals of the 2017 AAC Tournament with a convincing 81-71 win over Connecticut on Saturday. Revenge was so sweet for the Bearcats who advanced to their first-ever AAC championship game after getting knocked out of the past three conference tournaments by UConn. Starring for Cincinnati in this semifinal win was Gary Clark. He scored a game-high 25 points on 15-of-16 shooting from the free throw line. Jacob Evans and Troy Caupain also contributed for the Bearcats, scoring 21 and 19 points, respectively.
What makes Cincinnati tick, though, is its impeccable defense. The Bearcats are ninth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing just 91.5 points per 100 possessions this season. They will need to employ that suffocating D against SMU if they are to bag their first conference title since 2004. The Bearcats won the Conference USA crown that year. The Bearcats have limited the Mustangs to an average of 62 points in their two meetings this season. That’s way below SMU’s 74.2 PPG scoring average this campaign.
The Bearcats are 8-2 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games.
Betting on the SMU Mustangs (29-4, 17-1 AAC)
There’s no hotter team in the NCAA right now than SMU. The Mustangs go into Sunday’s American Athletic Conference championship on a 15-game unbeaten run, having won more games than any other team in the program’s storied history. They have now won 25 of their last 26 games after starting the season 4-3.
Key to the Mustangs’ resurgence has been their excellent play on the offensive end. They are 11th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, scoring 119.7 points per 100 possessions this season. SMU’s starters once again carried the bulk of the scoring in the win against Central Florida, with all 70 of the Mustangs’ points coming from their first five. Sterling Brown led all scorers with 22 points while Semi Ojeleye and Shake Milton chipped in 17 and 16 points, respectively.
Fatigue is a major concern, though, for head coach Tim Jankovich entering the AAC final. SMU will be preparing for its third game in three days. The Mustangs’ starters, as they have in most games this season, each played at least 28 minutes in the win against UCF. They have faced the Bearcats twice this season, with SMU and Cincinnati splitting those two assignments. Cincy edged past SMU, 66-64, in their first encounter on January 12. SMU returned the favor a month later, beating Cincinnati, 60-51, at home.
The Mustangs are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games.
SMU (-2) regains the AAC crown with a nail-biting 68-64 win.
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