Monday Picks: Cincinnati Poised for Shootout in Caribbean?

Jay Pryce

Monday, November 20, 2017 2:50 PM UTC

Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 2:50 PM UTC

A pair of ranked teams and an early afternoon tip feature in our college basketball picks of the day. Check out our predictions and previews for Furman at No. 1 Duke, Buffalo versus No. 12 Cincinnati in the Cayman Classic, and Prairie View versus Eastern Kentucky in a wake-up clash at Las Vegas.

Prairie View A&M vs. Eastern Kentucky (-10)

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas (2 p.m. ET)

Prairie View has not enjoyed a winning season since 2010, going 13-20 SU last year and sharing third place in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The league ranks one of the lowest in terms of power rating, and representatives often fall flat of expectations in out-of-conference matchups. Over the last decade, they are 13-159 SU and 74-97-1 ATS when catching points. On a neutral court, the record dips to 3-41 SU and 18-26 ATS. Generating offense is difficult in this situation, scoring just 59.2 points per game as a group.

Prairie View is backcourt-oriented with defensive-minded two-way players. The squad is low on confidence after losing each of its first three games by 21, 33, and 35 points respectively. To be fair, the Panthers have faced one of the tougher schedules to date with losses at Utah, Oregon and UNLV. Nevertheless, do not expect a big turnaround against a stout Eastern Kentucky squad.

The Colonels underachieved last season going, going 12-19 SU overall. There are greater expectations this year, picked by Ohio Valley Conference coaches and information directors to finish fourth in conference. Eastern Kentucky averages 81.7 points per game through three played, including putting up 73 and 75 at Rice and Ole Miss. Look for the group to eclipse 80 against the weaker Panthers with free throw shooting the difference-maker. Its 80.9 success rate from the charity stripe ranks 19th nationally.

The Panthers are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 as underdogs, failing to cover by 5.4 points per game. It’s tough to see them scoring more than 65 in this matchup. Under head coach Dan McHale, the Colonels are 19-7-1 ATS when scoring 75 points or more. Lay the points with Eastern Kentucky.

Free NCAAB Pick: EKU -10.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Furman at No. 1 Duke

Cameron Indoor, Durham, NC (7 p.m. ET)

Since 2006, the No.1 team in the country is 56-36-2 ATS (60.9 percent) as home chalk vs. non-ranked out-of-conference opponents. Duke covered the spread against former Southern Conference representative Elon 97-68 as 19.5-point chalk 10 days ago in this spot, and aims to do the same against Furman. Over the last decade, the Blue Devils are 15-0 SU and 8-7 ATS at Cameron Indoor hosting the conference, winning by 26.5 points per game. During this span, Furman is 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS vs. ranked opponents, losing to the number (27.4) by 7.6 points per game. The Paladins allowed 90 points or more in all but one. When Duke puts up 90 points in Durham, it is 35-13-1 ATS since 2007. What we’re getting at here is this is a huge mismatch on paper that is tough to forecast. The Blue Devils look like a legit No. 1 team deserving of its ranking after disposing Michigan State two games ago. History says to side with Duke here, and recent form suggests it as well. Lay the points.

Free NCAAB Pick: Duke -22.5Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Buffalo vs. No. 12 Cincinnati (-15.5)

John Gray Gymnasium, Grand Cayman Island (7:30 p.m. ET)

Cincinnati has waltzed through its first three games, routing Savannah State, Western Carolina and Coppin State by 30, 51, and 43 points, respectively. It faces a slightly tougher challenge in the first round of the Cayman Islands Classic vs. Buffalo on Monday. Coaches picked the Bulls to win the Mid-American Conference East Division after going 17-15 SU last season and reaching the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons. Nate Oats is coach and employs one of the fastest offenses in the country, ranking in the top-30 in adjusted tempo the last two seasons. The Bulls toss up a ton of 3-pointers (24.5 per game this year), but ball movement is relatively stagnant in the majority of half-court sets. Buffalo’s .466 assists-per-field goals made rate ranks 258th nationally; good luck squaring off against a Mick Cronin-coached defense one-on-one.

The Bearcats are defense-first, defense-second and then defense-third with a little offense sprinkled in since Cronin took over in 2006. The pressure is intense, as they force opponents to work for an open look every possession.  As a neutral-court favorite vs. non-ranked opponents, Cincinnati allows 65.4 points on 41.7 percent shooting over the last decade. It has rarely faced a team as quick-paced as Buffalo in this span, but has proven to keep scoring down against similar in this situation (see 71-50 win over Penn State last season). In 19 games, just three crossed over the 150-point threshold, with one aided by overtime.

The Bearcats rank No. 8 in scoring (102 ppg) nationally following its cupcake schedule to open the year. Look for that to sink quickly, it’s not Cronin’s modus operandi. “I wish I was going down to the Cayman Islands for a regular vacation,” Cronin told reporters ahead of the tournament, “but we’re here to get some hardware.” That means a defensive hurricane is in the forecast. Pick ‘under’ 152 points as your best bet. 

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 152Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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