Shutdown D On Display In Alabama, Cincinnati Hoops Wednesday

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 1:08 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 1:08 PM UTC

Expect a pair of low-scoring contests when Houston takes on No. 8 Cincinnati and Missouri travels to Alabama Wednesday night. We’re picking the ‘under’ in each. Here’s why:

Houston vs No. 8 Cincinnati (-11)

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Free NCAAB Pick: Under 135Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

Houston (16-4 SU, 9-7 ATS) and Cincinnati (19-2 SU, 10-7 ATS) square off in the first of two meetings this season at BB&T Center Wednesday (7 p.m. ET), the temporary site of the Bearcats’ home games as Fifth Third Arena undergoes renovations. Regardless of the venue, the Cougars have struggled in this matchup under head coach Kelvin Sampson. They are 1-6 SU and 2-4 ATS overall, losing by 8.0 points per game.

Scoring points is a challenge against Mick Cronin’s physical, lockdown defense. Houston averages 56.7 points per game on 38.9 percent shooting. It has surpassed its projected team total once—and this by a bucket only. Cincy has sported an AP Top 25 ranking in each, voted No. 8 for this meeting.

Factor in two matchups against new-AAC representatives Wichita State earlier this year, and the ‘under’ is 8-0 all-time when Sampson’s Cougars square off against ranked opponents. A 125.5 final score stays 9.6 points below a 135.1 average line under these conditions.

What makes the bet appealing here is the fact this might be the Cougars’ best defense yet under Sampson. They and the Bearcats rank in the top nine nationally in opponent field goal percentage. Houston yields 39.1 percent from the floor, while Cincy allows a stingy 36.2 overall.

Our prediction: Cincy wins 70-59 in a defense-first affair. Pick ‘under’ 135 for a winner.

Missouri vs Alabama (-5.5)

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Free NCAAB Pick: Under 137Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

Alabama (14-7 SU, 11-8 ATS) earned everyone’s respect after shutting down high-flying No. 12 Oklahoma 80-73 on Saturday. The Sooners lead the nation in scoring, averaging 90.7 points per game. The Crimson Tide held the Big 12 powerhouse to its third lowest field goal percentage this season (40.8), surrendering just 17 points to prodigy Trae Young (30.3 ppg). It proved the freshman’s fewest since the opener (15). Here's a few highlights from that big win:

ICYMI - We ??you Bama Nation! You had Coleman Coliseum ROCKING in a "White Out" for the Big 12/SEC Challenge showdown!

Watch the highlights from our big win over No. 12 Oklahoma, the Tide's third victory in four chances vs. the AP Top 25 this season! #RollTide #BuckleUp pic.twitter.com/AmHNbiFB6h

— Alabama Men’s Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) January 28, 2018

Bettors can expect another shutdown performance against Missouri. Coach Avery Johnson’s defense stifles unranked conference opponents. Since taking over in 2015, the Crimson Tide yield 61.5 points per game on 40.0 percent shooting at Coleman Coliseum in this spot. Remarkably, only one opponent (LSU, 2017) has put up more than 62 points in 11 of the last 12 in this situation.

Missouri (13-8 SU, 10-10 ATS) enters with a highly efficient offense, ranked 33rd in KenPom’s adjusted ratings. The team plays at a slow pace under first-year head coach Cuonzo Martin, however, coming in at 318 out of 351 D-I teams in tempo. The Tigers aren’t going to explode for 80 points or more at such a rate. Moreover, the offense is tepid away from home. In six true road games this season, Mizzou averages 62.3 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting.

As of publication, the betting market projects the Tigers scoring 67 points (-5.5, 138) in this matchup. They will not hit the mark. The ‘under’ is 14-3 when Johnson’s Tide hosts an unranked SEC foe, a 130.6 combined score staying well below a 137.4 average total. We have it 68-62 for ‘Bama. The ‘under’ cashes easily.

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