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Cincinnati vs. SMU - 3/9/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Southern Methodist Mustangs (17-15) at Cincinnati Bearcats (27-4)

College Basketball: Friday, March 9, 2018 at 12:00 pm (Amway Center)

The Line: Cincinnati Bearcats -13 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN2

We have some AAC tournament quarterfinals action on tap Friday afternoon, as the top-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats face off against the #9 seed SMU Mustangs.

The SMU Mustangs reached the quarterfinals with an 80-73 victory over UCONN on Thursday afternoon. Ben Emelogu II led SMU with 23 points on 6 of 10 shooting with 4 threes and a team-high 8 rebounds, while Akoy Agau added 21 points on 7 of 8 shooting while matching that mark at the foul line and Jahmal McMurray chipped in 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting with 3 threes and 3 steals to round out the trio of double digit scorers for SMU in the win. Jimmy Whitt shot just 1 of 7 for 6 points but still leads SMU with an average of 10.7 points and 3.5 assists per game while Emelogu II leads SMU in rebounding with 5.4 rebounds per game this season. As a team, SMU is scoring 70.1 points per game on 44.5% shooting from the field, 38.3% from behind the arc and 68.5% from the foul line this season.

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Cincinnati vs. SMU - 3/9/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bearcats enter the AAC tournament as the top seed after posting a 16-2 conference record mark as part of their 27-4 overall mark this year. The Bearcats emerged from the non-conference portion of their schedule with an 11-2 mark, with wins over UCLA, Mississippi State, Buffalo, Richmond and Wyoming with their lone blemishes coming to Florida on a neutral floor and a road loss to in-state rival Xavier. Cincy also jumped out to a 12-0 start to conference play, giving up 60 or more points just twice over that span. Back-to-back losses to Houston and Wichita State stunned the Bearcats before rattling 4 straight wins to close out the year, including a 62-61 win over Wichita State in their season finale which many reviewed as an instant classic this season. Jacob Evans leads Cincinnati with an average of 13.5 points and 3.3 assists per game while Gary Clark leads the Bearcats in rebounding with 8.2 rebounds per game this season. As a team, Cincinnati is scoring 75.6 points per game on 45.6% shooting from the field, 36.7% from behind the arc and 69.4% from the foul line this season. The Bearcats also own one of the stingiest defenses in D-I, giving up the 2nd-fewest points per game at 57.3 on the 2nd-lowest field goal percentage against in the country, allowing opposition to shoot just 37.1% from the field this season.

SMU is 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 games against a team with a winning record and 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 games overall while the under is 4-1-1 in their last 6 neutral site games. Cincinnati is 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games against a team with a winning record and 15-7-1 ATS in their last 23 conference matchups while the under is 5-0 in their last 5 neutral site games. The favorite is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings between these two teams.

I won’t lie, anyone who read my pick yesterday knows that I counted out SMU against UCONN and I was wrong, as the Mustangs jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. However, SMU also allowed UCONN to make a game of it, and that won’t fly against a Cincinnati team that’s one of the best in the country defensively. The Bearcats won both meetings this season by a combined margin of 45 points, including a 25-point win at SMU, and even on a neutral floor I expect things to remain the same. Lay the points with Cincinnati here.

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