Houston vs Cincinnati: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (2/6/22)

Houston vs Cincinnati Betting Odds

Despite losing its best player and another major contributor, Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars are 8-0 in AAC play.

However, Cincinnati isn’t far behind. Behind an impressive defense, the Bearcats are 5-3 in conference play with wins over Wichita State and SMU.

Cinci now gets Houston at home looking for a major bubble-boosting win. The Bearcats are in the mix, but a few more losses would put them on life-support.

So, do we bet Cincinnati as a hungry home dog?

Houston Cougars Odds

So, Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark both went down due to injuries. Sasser was the favorite to win conference Player of the Year at the time.

No matter. Houston leads the conference in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

The Houston defense is suffocating. The Cougars switch effortlessly and contest endlessly. They’re also incredibly active and force turnovers at the 18th-highest rate nationally.

There could be some regression coming for Houston. Houston allows one of the highest opponent 3-point rates nationally, but those same opponents are hitting at just a 28% clip.

However, given how relentless Houston contests on the perimeter, I’m not that surprised. ShotQuality’s metrics – which rates teams based on the quality of shots taken and allowed – project Houston for minimal negative regression.

With Sasser out, Texas Tech transfer Kyler Edwards and UConn transfer Josh Carlton have shouldered the load of the scoring.

Despite the change in personnel, the Houston offense hasn’t changed. Houston chucks it from 3 (40% 3PA/FGA) and scores bunches on offensive rebounds (second nationally in offensive rebounding rate).

Houston is currently second in the NET and sixth in KenPom – all without its best player. Coach Sampson is a wizard.

Cincinnati Bearcats Odds

The Bearcat defense has been suffocating.

The AAC always has solid defenses. Houston every season, but Memphis finished last season first in defensive efficiency.

Now, Wes Miller’s squad is that team.

Cinci is first nationally in defensive effective field goal percentage, but it’s not a fluke. The Bearcats funnel everything to the interior, allowing the 25th lowest opponent 3-point rate nationally. But they back it up by allowing the lowest 2-point percentage – a crazy-low 40.1%.

However, It’s ugly offensively. The Bearcats barely score 70 points per game, ranking 193rd in that regard. In terms of efficiency, they’re 145th in offensive efficiency and 254th in effective field goal percentage.

The only thing that saves Cinci’s offense is a veteran backcourt that takes care of the ball. All three of Cinci’s guards are nationally ranked in turnover rate, and the Bearcats are 18th nationally in offensive turnover rate as a result.

Houston vs Cincinnati Prediction and Pick

My pick: Cincinnati +6.5 (-110 at BetMGM)

The Bearcats need this win to get back in the bubble conversation.

However, I believe the defense in Cincinnati is legit. And that defense will keep the Bearcats in the game.

Cincinnati will avoid easy buckets on the interior. However, the key to the game will be keeping Houston off the offensive boards.

The Bearcats haven’t been the best defensive rebounding team, but I expect them to put up a good fight in a must-win game.

And as a six-point home dog, I love betting the Bearcats in the spot.

The Bearcats may not win, but look for this Cincinnati team to keep this game within a few possessions.

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Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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