Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Cincinnati vs. #3 Houston (1/28/2023) - Taking Vegas

Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Cincinnati vs. #3 Houston (1/28/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
January 28, 2023

Cincinnati Bearcats vs #3 Houston Cougars (1/28 @ 2:15 PM EST)

Spread: Houston -14.5
Money Line: Cincinnati +750 / Houston -1300
Total: 131

Overview and Betting Info

The Cincinnati Bearcats (14-7) will head south to take on the #3 Houston Cougars (19-2) on Saturday afternoon. These teams met earlier this month, with the Cougars winning 72-59. Houston currently leads the AAC, while Cincinnati is fifth.

The Bearcats are 13-7 against the spread this season and have covered two of their five road games. They have gone over the total nine times, but just once on the road.

The Cougars are 14-7 versus the spread but are just 7-6 at home. They’ve gone over the total nine times, five of which came at home.

Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats come into Saturday fresh off a loss at home against Memphis in a critical conference matchup. The loss broke a three-game win streak that vaulted them up the AAC standings. While they’ve lost to the conference’s top three teams, the Bearcats have played well against the rest as they push for an NCAA tournament berth. They are 3rd in the conference in scoring (76.8 PPG) and 2nd in three-point percentage (35.9%) and rebounds (37.9 RPG). Their defense ranks around the middle of the pack in most categories, but they’ve been especially susceptible to the three-point shot, with opponents shooting 31.7% from three.

The Bearcats are led by a talented duo of senior guards with Landers Nolley II (15.5 PPG,5.4 RPG) and David DeJulius (14.5 PPG, 4.2 APG, 1.0 SPG). Both are threats from deep, with Nolley making 44.3% and DeJulius making 38.6% of their three-point attempts. Neither played well against Houston a couple of weeks ago, with DeJulius scoring six and Nolley scoring 12. Nolley hit all four three-point attempts but went 0-4 from inside the arc. The duo is joined by forward Viktor Lakhin (12.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.2 BPG). The sophomore is turning into a star this season and has been a force on both ends of the court. He’s coming off a game where he scored 22 points, grabbed ten rebounds, and had three steals. He played well against Houston in their first meeting and will play a crucial role again on Saturday.

Cincinnati doesn’t have a deep bench, but they have a few key role players in Jeremiah Davenport (9.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG) and Mika Adams-Woods (9.8 PPG). Both are streaky shooters, but they can be deadly when they get hot. Adams led the Bearcats in scoring against Houston, scoring 19 points and making 72% of his shots. Davenport was awful in that game, going 0-7 from three and 1-9 from the field. The guard is a strong rebounder, but they’ll need him scoring if they want a chance to win at Houston.

Houston Cougars

Houston comes into Saturday having won ten of their last eleven games. Their nine-game win streak was broken with a stunning home loss to Temple last week. While the Owls have been great in conference play, Houston is a far better team. The loss puts them just one game up on Temple in the AAC, meaning the Cougars will be motivated to get a big home win on Saturday. While their offense is fantastic, their defense is the reason for their success this season. They are 2nd in the country in points allowed (54.2 PPG) and opponent field goal percentage (34.7%).

Houston is led by Marcus Sasser (16.6 PPG, 1.9 SPG) and Jarace Walker (10.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.0 SPG). Both are great defenders, with Sasser emerging as the team’s top scorer. He’s been fantastic over their last five games, averaging 19.2 points and 2.2 steals per game. He was superb against the Bearcats, with 16 points and five steals. Walker is a freshman that has been the teams second-leading scorer and rebounder. His scoring has been streaky all season, with big scoring performances often followed by a letdown performance. He has been incredible on the defense of late, with three blocks and seven steals over their last four games. In their meeting earlier this month, he torched the Bearcats for 21 points and three steals.

The Cougars only use a three-man bench, but their role players have a lot of talent. The group is led by Tramon Mark (10 PPG, 4.3 RPG), J’Wan Roberts (9.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG), and Jamal Shead (9.0 PPG, 5.2 APG). Mark has been quiet on the scoring front over their last two games, but Shead has made up for it by averaging 15.3 points in the previous four games. Shead has been a great distributor as well, with 10 assists in Thursday’s win against UCF. J’Wan Roberts is the teams leading rebounder and has been a beast down low, with five blocks in his last three games. He’s also a good scorer, though consistency has been an issue. Keep an eye on Emanuel Sharp as well. The guard was a non-factor against Cincinnati in their first matchup, but he’s coming off an impressive 18-point performance against UCF.

Free Pick: Over 131

That spread is too big for us to trust, but we love the over here. Houston is averaging 74.4 points over their last five games, but the defense has sputtered a bit and allowed an average of 64 points. The Bearcats only managed 59 points in their first matchup, but we think that improves on Saturday as the team has been better on offense since, scoring over 80 points in two of their last four games.
We have no doubt that Houston will get the win, but we see a higher-scoring game that easily eclipses the total. The Bearcats didn’t get much from their scorers in the first matchup, but they should be improved the second time around.

We’re rolling with the over on Saturday.