AAC Betting Preview: (20) Memphis Tigers at (15) Cincinnati Bearcats

joe-jackson-memphis-2012(20) Memphis at (15) Cincinnati
Time: 7 PM ET, Mar 6, 2014
Spread: CIN -5.5

Betting odds courtesy of Bovada

No. 15 overall Cincinnati has lost its strangle-hold on the AAC conference and now must win two more games to secure the title. The Bearcats, though, have lost three of its past five contests and will host No. 20 Memphis in a game college basketball oddsmakers are giving the edge to the Bearcats. Cincy enters as 5.5 point favorites.

The loss that Cincy suffered to Louisville hurt. It tied the teams at the top of the AAC, and both teams close the season with tough schedules. Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said “you’ve got to be sharp this time of year or it’s going to cost you.” Obviously, Cronin’s statement applies not just to the AAC crown but to the upcoming NCAA tournament. Cincy will close the season against Memphis, and the Tigers have won three of its past four contests. Louisville, meanwhile, will face No. 18 SMU and No. 19 UConn to close the season.

The real issue may be that the Bearcats have just taken the wrong time to start struggling. Sean Kilpatrick has been brilliant all season and is averaging 20.3 points per game to lead the team. The only other Bearcat to score in double figures is Justin Jackson with 11.0 points per game. Jackson also leads the team in boards, corralling 6.9 rebounds per game.

Cincy uses a a deep nine-man rotation, but without Kilpatrick’s scoring the team is in real trouble. He scored 28 in the loss to Louisville, but shot just 9-of-26 from the field. In the loss to UConn, he was just 4-of-16 from the floor. In the two games prior to those losses, he was 50 percent or greater from the floor. While he will undoubtedly account for most of the Bearcats’ offense, his teammates have to do their jobs in getting him better shots.

The Memphis Tigers are a little more diverse offensively. Joe Jackson, Shaq Goodwin and Michael Dixon Jr. combine to average 38.3 points per game and the Tigers have three others averaging at least nine points per game. The Tigers are 3rd in the nation in assists per game, which speaks to the fluidity of the team’s offense. The Tigers also rank high (30th) in scoring, averaging 78.6 points per game. The Tigers are 4-3 this season against ranked opponents, so the team has shown the ability to knock off big time opponents. Scoring a victory today would be a big confidence booster going into March Madness.

MEM Trends: 7-3 ATS in last 10 Thursday games; 7-3 ATS in last 10 road games.

CIN Trends: UNDER 43-11 in last 54 overall; UNDER 41-13 in last 54 home games; 9-4 ATS in last 13 home games.

Head-to-head: Memphis 6-2-1 ATS in last 9 meetings.

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