The college basketball Sunday concludes with an AAC battle between the no. 6 Houston Cougars and the Cincinnati Bearcats. On the road, the Cougars are listed as six-point favorites. There is also an over/under of 132.5 points.
Houston has flown under the radar a little this season because the Cougars are in the AAC. But they are 19-2 overall and have worked their way up to no. 6 in the polls. The Cougars are also riding an 11-game winning streak, going 8-0 at the start of conference play.
Meanwhile, the Bearcats have had an up-and-down season in Wes Miller’s first year in Cincinnati. It’s possible that things are starting to move in the right direction for the Bearcats, who have won four of their last five games. But at 15-6 overall and 5-3 in conference play, Cincinnati will need some big wins down the stretch to make the NCAA Tournament.
All Guards, All the Time
Few teams in the country are as guard-centric as the Bearcats, who are led by a quartet of great guards. Jeremiah Davenport and David DeJulius have led the way all season, with each averaging 13.4 points per game and Davenport being Cincinnati’s leading rebounder. Meanwhile, Mika Adams-Woods and Mike Saunders are the team’s primary ball-handlers and secondary scorers, averaging 9.1 and 7.3 points per game, respectively.
Granted, the Bearcats have some frontcourt players, although they can’t always rely on a lot of production from them. For example, forwards John Newman, Viktor Lakhin, and Odd Iguana average over 16 points per game together but combined for zero points in Cincinnati’s last game. The Bearcats also don’t get much scoring out of big men Hayden Koval and Abdul Ado, although those players do give Cincinnati good size and a defending presence inside.
The amazing thing about Houston’s season is the Cougars have continued to dominate despite injuries to both Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark. Texas Tech transfer Kyler Edwards has been critical in stepping up to lead the Cougars with 14.2 points per game. Jamal Shead has also played more than expected, averaging five assists per game, with Taze Moore and Ramon Walker providing adequate depth in the backcourt.
Houston’s size has also been beneficial, as center Josh Carlton and forward Fabian White are averaging 12 and 11.5 points per game, respectively. Carlton provides a serious post presence, while White is an experienced and versatile player who gets after it on the boards. But if those two don’t produce, the Cougars don’t have many other options despite Reggie Chaney and J’Wan Roberts playing solid minutes off the bench.
Houston has had a couple of close games in conference play this season, and both have come on the road. The Cougars are also yet to play some of the top teams in the AAC, including Cincinnati. With the Bearcats having the size to slow down Houston’s big men and more depth in the backcourt than the Cougars, bet on Cincinnati to beat the six-point spread and put the Cougars on upset alert.
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