Free NCAA Basketball Picks: SMU -6 Over Cincinnati

Jeff Grant

Thursday, February 5, 2015 1:28 PM GMT

SMU is the hottest team in the American Athletic Conference, which makes it a top college basketball pick against Cincinnati Thursday night.

Disappointing Effort
Cincinnati looks to bounce back from a 50-46 setback to the East Carolina Pirates as 10.5-point road favorites last time out, which is important to consider when looking over the NCAA basketball odds as it has gone 8-8 SU and 4-12 ATS off a loss against a conference rival the last two-plus seasons.

The Bearcats have won eight of 12 games under interim head coach Larry Davis, who has taken over the day-to-day responsibilities of the program with Mick Cronin being out due to health reasons.

It’s important to point out that the squad owns a 4-2 advantage in this series, but it has dropped both games away from home.

Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, the Bearcats are 3-4 SU and 4-3 ATS as road underdogs of 3.5 to 6 points, with the OVER going 4-3 in that situation.

 

Running Hot
SMU has won eight straight and 16 of its last 17 games, which can’t be ignored when making your  free NCAA basketball pick, as it looks to avenge a 56-50 defeat to Cincinnati as one-point road favorites on Jan. 3.

The Mustangs lead the AAC and are tied for fifth nationally with a +11.6 margin between their field goal percentage and field goal percent defense—not surprising due to the fact that they led the country in that category last year.

Sports bettors will also find that this group paces the league in averaging 70.1 points and owning a +8.4 rebounding margin.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the school is 4-3 SUATS as home favorites of 3.5 to 6 points.

 

Getting Defensive
The Bearcats own the nation’s longest active streak of holding opponents under 70 points at 25 games, while they occupy the No. 5 spot in limiting foes to just 54.5 points a contest.

Cincinnati ranks 16th in defensive efficiency—made possible by limiting teams to a 43.3 percent effective field goal percentage and ranking seventh in not committing fouls defensively.

 

Rising Up
The Mustangs are capable of making a long run in the 2015 NCAA Tournament if forward Markus Kennedy continues to play at a high level, as he averaged 17.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in two games last week.

Kennedy was just starting to work his way back from an early-season injury in the first meeting against the Bearcats—scoring just seven points in 19 minutes of action.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Mustangs as one of their basketball picks, as the Bearcats are 7-18 ATS in their last 25 road games.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick:  SMU Mustangs -6 at BookMaker