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Cincinnati vs. SMU: NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions

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Cincinnati vs. SMU: NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions
Kendric Davis #3 of the Southern Methodist Mustangs on January 31, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

Playing in Fort Worth this Friday might be enough for the Southern Methodist Mustangs to beat the Cincinnati Bearcats and the NCAAB lines.

Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Southern Methodist Mustangs

Friday, March 12, 2021 – 3:00 PM ET at Dickies Arena

Finally, they’ve named an arena after one of the greatest American punk rock bands of all-time. What’s that? Oh. I’m being told Dickies Arena in Fort Worth is not, in fact, sponsored by The Dickies. But it’s still an important part of our Friday NCAAB picks. That’s the venue for the AAC Men’s Basketball Tournament, and that’s where the No. 4 SMU Mustangs (11-4 SU, 6-8-1 ATS) will face the No. 5 Cincinnati Bearcats (10-10 SU, 6-14 ATS) in the quarterfinals – live on the Deuce.

Why is this important? Because it’s a virtual home game for the Mustangs. They normally play at Moody Coliseum in University Park, but that’s just 30 miles away. And while home-court advantage isn’t what it used to be in the age of COVID, Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today has crunched the numbers, and he says the home court has been worth 2.08 points across Division I. Plus, we know there will be at least some fans in attendance, because Texas now has loosened its restrictions. This could be the angle that makes SMU worth betting on, now that they’ve opened as 6-point favorites at BookMaker.

Seed Money

There is a big problem with this matchup, though – which we’ll get to in a moment. First, let’s go ahead and look at Ken Pomeroy’s advanced stats profile for both clubs:

  • Cincinnati: No. 114 overall (No. 125 offense, No. 101 defense), plus-7.11 margin
  • SMU: No. 53 overall (No. 47 offense, No. 63 defense), plus-15.70 margin

That’s quite a big gap in performance level between Nos. 4 and 5 in this tournament. Specifically, we’re looking at 8.59 points per 100 possessions. They’ll play roughly 69 possessions barring overtime. Since the Bearcats are one of the faster teams in Division I, that’s already SMU –6 if you don’t factor in whatever home-court advantage the Mustangs might enjoy. Money! Gobs and gobs of money! I’m gonna buy me a mountain of Dogecoin.

Tari Eason of the Bearcats
Tari Eason #13 of the Cincinnati Bearcats puts up a lay up. Photo by Carmen Mandato / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

I Ain’t Missin’ You At All

Okay, now that I’ve hit you with the stats, it’s time to throw them all away. There’s a real-life crisis happening on the ground for SMU. They haven’t played since February 8. They haven’t even practiced. And reports at press time say the Mustangs still won’t have their entire lineup available for Friday’s game. Stupid coronavirus.

Cincinnati won’t be at full capacity, either – although that could be good for them. Guards Zach Harvey (plus-2.8 BPM) and David Dejulius (plus-1.8 BPM) opted out for the remainder of the season after the ‘Cats went through their own COVID-19 pause in January. Since then, Cincinnati have been much more competitive at 7-3 SU and 4-6 ATS. So we ultimately have to leave those Pomeroy numbers behind and call an audible – for the Over, which is 7-3 for the new-look Bearcats and 15-5 on the season. Let’s hope SMU (Over 8-7) can keep up.

NCAAB Pick: Over 143.5 (–110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

Over 143.5(-110)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.