Back Cincinnati With Your NCAA Basketball Picks To Upset SMU In ACC Clash

Willie Bee

Thursday, January 7, 2016 1:28 PM GMT

SMU puts its unbeaten mark on the line Thursday night when the Mustangs host the Cincinnati Bearcats. Join us for a preview and free NCAA basketball pick in the AAC clash.

Don't Miss Our Preview On What To Look For In A Good Team

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Cincinnati +7
Best Line Offered: at The Greek

 

Admittedly, I'm in a bit of an 'under' rut with my recent free NCAA basketball picks, and it hasn't worked out on the profit side of the ledger. So here I sit wanting to break away from the same old play, yet staring at a matchup between the Cincinnati Bearcats and SMU Mustangs that features two of the tougher defenses in the country.

The young American Athletic Conference rivalry is set for a 7 PM (ET) tip Thursday at Moody Coliseum in Dallas, ESPN providing the telecast. SMU is -7 across the board on SBR's live NCAA basketball odds, and a 138½ point total is hanging for the game, that figure a full 15 points higher than any of the last four matchups.

The Bearcats and Mustangs have only met seven times previously, three of those clashes taking place in the 40s, 60s and 70s. The last four have come in the past two seasons as league opponents, Cincinnati winning three of those and standing 5-2 overall vs. Southern Methodist.

Both contests a year ago went to Mick Cronin's crew, each time an upset as small underdogs. Three of the four conference collisions have been winners for those college basketball bettors holding Cincinnati tickets. Totals have split, both games in Porkopolis remaining 'under' the marks while the two in Big D hopped past the scoreboard barrier.

 

Bearcats 2-3 ATS In Road/Neutral Site Games
Cincinnati (11-4 straight up, 4-7 against the spread) has been home since before Christmas, winning three of the five games. The two losses came back-to-back to Iowa State and Temple, and it was the conference opener against the Owls that was the real head-scratcher.

The Bearcats didn't have one of their typically strong defensive performances against Temple, and it cost them in a 77-70 decision that closed with Cincinnati laying 11½ points. Cincy led by a point with five minutes to go but got outscored 15-7 in the closing minutes as the Owls shot an even 50% from the field and canned 10 shots from outside the arc.

That was the highest field goal percentage the 'Cats have allowed this season, limiting opponents to just under 38% on the season (13th in the nation) and 61.9 PPG (also 13th). Cincinnati is 2-1 in its two true road games, wins and covers at Bowling Green and VCU and a 10-point loss at Xavier in mid-December.

 

Ponies Lose A Distraction...And 12 PPG
The divorce between Southern Methodist (13-0 SU, 4-5 ATS) and Keith Frazier became official on Tuesday when the junior left for 'personal reasons.' It's the second consecutive spring term the Mustangs will be without the 6'-5" guard after the Dallas native couldn't cut the mustard academically a year ago. Frazier is one of the reasons why the Mustangs will not be invited to the dance this March.

The Ponies didn't need him last Saturday in the 72-58 win over South Florida, though they also didn't come close to covering the 25 point closing spread. The disruption in the locker room might have been behind the team shooting a season-low 41% from the field. It'll be tough to shoot better than that against the Bearcats even if the Mustangs have their heads on straight. The good news is they're among the top-scoring teams in the nation averaging about 83 a game with four players scoring in double figures after Frazier's departure. The pressure will be on Shake Milton and Sterling Brown to both pick up their scoring and outside shooting.

The extra offense this year -- SMU averaged 69 PPG last season -- has led to the 'over' cashing six times in nine games. Cincinnati has been a better 'under' team with a 4-7 O/U record, four of the last six finals never making it to the totals. In the end, the total is too risky of a bet and I'm simply taking the points on the 'dog for my Thurday's free college basketball pick.

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