Cincinnati to Pound Out Victory Over Wichita State

Doug Upstone

Sunday, February 18, 2018 1:03 PM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 1:03 PM UTC

If you are a fan of nasty, rugged and physical basketball, put on your helmet and those big old- school shoulder pads because Wichita State and Cincinnati are going to tangle today (4 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Sunday College Basketball: Wichita State vs. CincinnatiFree NCAAB Pick: Cincinnati -6Best Line Offered: Bovada

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Cincinnati was just defeated for the first time in AAC action Thursday, falling at Houston 67-62 as two-point favorites. The fifth-ranked Bearcats were outworked and outhustled by the Cougars and you know coach Mick Cronin has given his club an earful since.

Many of those making college basketball picks would have figured No. 19 Wichita State was champing at the bit to extract revenge on Tempe for an earlier loss, but the Shockers were shocking bad and trailed by 14 points at the half before deciding to play and eventually won 93-86 as 12.5-point favorites.

For this anticipated matchup, the college basketball odds board has Cincinnati favored by six with a total of 141. Here is what to watch for.

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Wichita State Better Come Ready

With a veteran cast and a coach as good as Gregg Marshall, it seems peculiar Wichita State (20-5, 11-12 ATS) would be having an up-and-down season. It's not like the Shockers have played poorly, but they have lacked the readiness to play from the beginning of games on at least eight or nine occasions. That has cost them in every loss except against Notre Dame in November.

With how Cincinnati usually plays, if Wichita State has the same casualness, they will not be making a comeback against the Bearcats. This means the Shockers better utilize their meal ticket Shaq Morris to his fullest extent. It would also help if guard Conner Frankamp would be more effective, but he has had issues with the quicker and faster guards in this conference compared to the Missouri Valley.

Is Cincinnati's Shooting Eye Wandering?

It is a given Cronin's Bearcats (23-3, 14-9 ATS) are going to play defense; that we know. What separates his top teams from those down a rung or two down is how well they shoot. Nobody is expecting Cincinnati to shoot 50 percent like a few other programs do on a consistent basis. And those schools do not play hard-nosed defense like the Cronin's crew does, either.

The Bearcats are shooting 45.3 percent on the season, but three times this month in four games they have connected on less than 40 percent. There is no clear reason for this, yet it clear in the Houston setback the ball was not moving as it had been in previous games. Against a squad like Wichita State, Cincinnati has to ready, because the Shockers average 84.3 PPG.

Who Takes Battle Royal?

This is the first time Wichita State will be an underdog this season and I expect them to come out fired up. Nonetheless, Cincinnati lost because they did not give their best effort. Being back home, where they are 13-0 and 7-3 ATS (winning by 29.1 PPG), I look for the Bearcats offense and defense to be the difference as they win by 8.

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