Cincinnati Defense Too Strong for Temple on Thursday

Willie Bee

Thursday, January 4, 2018 1:43 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018 1:43 PM UTC

Off to a 0-2 start in AAC play, Temple is an underdog on the NCAA basketball odds at home Thursday night against a defensive-minded group of Cincinnati Bearcats.

NCAAB Season Record: 18-22-1 (-5.10)

Cincinnati Bearcats at Temple OwlsFree NCAAB Pick: UC -8.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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The start to the 2017-18 season was good enough for Fran Dunphy and Temple. The Owls danced out of the gate with six wins in their first eight games, including mild upsets of Clemson and Auburn plus solid victories against South Carolina and Wisconsin. Four losses in the last five, two of them to AAC foes to begin league play, have Temple in a free-fall and in need of a big win to come out of the funk.

Dunphy and the Owls can get just that Thursday night when they host No. 19/20 Cincinnati at Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. ESPN2 has the 9 PM (ET) tip, and 5Dimes has the Bearcats favored by 8½ with 138½ for the scoreboard hurdle.

Can Temple Find 3-Point Stroke Against Tough Cincy Defense?

Pomeroy likes the Bearcats a little more than the conventional polls, ranking Cincinnati No. 8 in part because of one of the nation’s best defenses. The Bearcats certainly showed that part of their game off in an 82-48 win over Memphis on New Year’s Eve to get the AAC schedule started. Cincinnati ranks fourth in the country in allowing just over 59 PPG and fifth in the land letting opponents convert on just 37% of their field-goal attempts. The offense ain’t too shabby, either, with junior Jacob Evans leading a quartet averaging double-digits.

Temple’s defense has been a big issue during the recent slide. The Owls have surrendered 83 points per game in the latest four losses, opponents sinking better than 52% from the field (119-228). They were also been unable to find their mark from 3-point range in the two conference defeats against Tulane and Houston, the Owls converting just 12 of 47 from long range. The only good news in there was covering the NCAA basketball odds at Houston last Saturday, stopping a string of five spread losers.

Series Trends, Final Thoughts & A Free Pick

Cincinnati holds a 19-9 advantage in the rivalry as the Bearcats prepare to meet the Owls for the 29th time. Mick Cronin’s crew swept both games a season ago, a 56-50 win in Philly pushing a 6-point spread and an 81-74 victory at home ending with a Temple cover as a 12-point dog. The contest at Liacouras fell well short of a 132½-point total, the only ‘under’ winner in the last seven clashes. ‘Over’ tickets have paid out 8 of 10, those marks ranging from 115-133½.

The Owls have found a way to upset Cincinnati a couple of times in recent years, and Liacouras is a tough venue for visitors. Still, I don’t see where they’re going to find enough offense to do it this time, which is why my free college basketball pick is on the Bearcats.

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