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College Basketball Betting Preview & Best Bet: Sunday, March 6

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Fans are being encouraged to wear black for today’s regular-season finale within the friendly confines of Fifth Third Arena where Cincinnati will be honoring four seniors. The Bearcats have won five straight senior day games under head coach Mick Cronin and will be looking to avenge a 59-57 loss to SMU earlier this season.

Since the start of the 2013-2014 season, Cincinnati is 46-7 at Fifth Third Arena, including 23-3 in American Athletic Conference games. Overall, the Bearcats are an impressive 367-79 (.823) in Fifth Third Arena, including winning four straight against SMU.

Cincinnati’s success is once again predicated upon a solid defense that is ranked 9th nationally in scoring defense, 10th in total blocks (169), 10th in blocks per game (5.6), 11th in field goal percentage defense (.388), 25th in total steals (238), 26th in steals per game (7.9) and 29th in turnover margin (+2.7). The Bearcats have held their opponents under seventy points in 60 of their last 68 games dating back to the 2013-2014 campaign and in 117 off their last 132 games (88.6%) since the start of the 2012-2013 season.

Cincinnati has also held its opponents to under fifty percent shooting from the field in 156 of 169 games (92.3%) since the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. The Bearcats also play defense without fouling, ranking fifth nationally for fewest fouls per game at 15.5. Cincinnati finished last season ranked 12th in the country with 14.9 whistles called against them per contest so Cronin’s aggressive defensive mindset has not resulted in a lot of fouls.

Overall, the Bearcats are 10.3 points per game better than average defensively (61.8 points per game to teams that would combine to average 72.1 points per game, which is good enough to slow down a solid SMU attack that is 8.4 points per game better than average.

Cincinnati’s success this season was expected as Cronin’s squad returned all five starters from last year’s team, as well as 88.0% of its scoring and 88.2% of its rebounding. Cincinnati also possesses a well-balanced attack that has eight players averaging at least 5.6 points per game. Three players – Troy Caupain (12.4), Gary Clark (10.8) and Farad Cobb (10.8) – are averaging double figures.

I also like the fact that Cincinnati is ranked 27th nationally with 13.1 offensive rebounds per game, with Clark ranking 34th in offensive rebounds per game (3.38). From a technical standpoint, Cincinnati is 5-2 ATS in its last seven home games and 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings in this series.  These trends further support our college basketball best bet on the Bearcats.

Finally, Cincinnati is a perfect 21-0 SU in Last Home Games when taking the court with a .601 or greater win percentage, including 6-0 ATS when not favored by more than seven points. Take the Bearcats to improve their NCAA Tournament standing as Oskeim Sports’ college basketball best bet and invest with confidence.

Oskeim Sports’ College Basketball Best Bet: Cincinnati (ML) (-125)

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