AAC tournament quarterfinals odds, predictions and NCAA basketball best bets

Mar 15, 2019 |

The quarterfinals of the AAC tournament tips off Friday with a spot in the semifinals on the line. Jason Logan sizes up each matchup, the NCAA basketball betting odds, and gives his predictions and best bets for Friday’s AAC tournament tilts.

UCONN HUSKIES VS HOUSTON COUGARS

Odds: Houston -10.5, 139 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 12 p.m. ET FedEx Forum
Season Series: HOU 1-0 SU, UCONN 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U

The Huskies played a great game on offense in their AAC tournament opener with South Florida, knocking down a season-high 13 3-pointers and shooting 54 percent from the floor, and STILL only came away with a 7-point win. There are issues on defense for UConn, especially away from Storrs.

The Huskies gave up only 65.8 points per home game on the year but when they hit the highway, Dan Hurley’s kids budged for 77.9 points as visitors – a difference of more than 12 points per game. Even on neutral sites, which is what UConn is facing in the AAC tournament, it gave up an average of almost 82 points an outing.

No. 1 Houston has been blowing up the scoreboard in the final month of conference play. The Cougars, who averaged just under 78 points per game in AAC contests, have put up more than 82 points a night over their last six appearances. That includes tallies of 99, 85, and 85 on the road. Connecticut is terribly inconsistent on offense, so rather try our luck with the Over, I think the safer route is Over 74.5 on Houston’s team total. 

 

MEMPHIS TIGERS VS CENTRAL FLORIDA KNIGHTS

Odds: UCF -3, 147.5 O/U at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 2:30 p.m. ET FedEx Forum
Season Series: 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, 0-1-1 O/U

Two contrasting styles meet in the AAC quarterfinals when the up-tempo Tigers mix it up with the methodical Knights Friday afternoon. Memphis is one of the most explosive offenses in the country and ranks sixth in adjusted tempo, averaging 78.1 possessions per game. Central Florida, on the other hand, puts up only 69.3 possessions per outing and sits among the slowest tempos in land. 

So, who will enforce their tempo Friday? There are two other AAC programs that rank slower than UCF, and that’s SMU and Cincinnati. Memphis dropped both matchups with the Bearcats in the regular season, posting 69 and 64 points while playing Under in both meetings. They did knock off the Mustangs, scoring 83 points, but also stayed Under the number.

The Knights give up just 62 points per road game and while this is technically a “neutral site” tournament, it is very much a true road test for UCF inside FedEx Forum – home of the Memphis Tigers. Central Florida is 3-7 Over/Under as a visitor on the season and can’t let Memphis dictate the tempo in front of an electric crowd. Going Under 147.5. 

SMU MUSTANGS VS CINCINNATI BEARCATS

Odds: Cincinnati -7, 130 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 7 p.m. ET FedEx Forum, Memphis
Season Series: CIN 2-0 SU, SMU 2-0 ATS, 1-1 O/U

Playing zone is often a choice, not a necessity. But for Tim Jankovich’s shallow roster, zone defense has been its only option. With injuries leaving SMU with little in reserve and Jankovich wanting to keep something in the tank, the Mustangs have turned to zone more often than not down the stretch. That’s not a bad thing. 

Southern Methodist has put in two straight solid defensive performances behind that zone, including holding Tulsa to 37 percent shooting in a 74-65 win in the opening round of the AAC tournament Thursday. Before that, SMU frustrated South Florida in the season finale, limiting the Bulls to only 35 percent from the field.

The last time the Mustangs faced Cincinnati, they checked the Bearcats to just 27 percent shooting but still lost 52-49 as 4-point home dogs on February 27. Cincy plays one of the slowest tempos in the country and has gone Under in seven of its last 10. With SMU’s zone dialed in and the Bearcats taking their sweet-ass time, buckle up for a low-scoring snoozer. Under 130.

 

WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS VS TEMPLE OWLS

Odds: Temple -2.5, 140 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET FedEx Forum, Memphis
Season Series: TEM 1-0 SU, TEM 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U

It was a long time ago – in basketball years – when the Owls knocked off the Shockers 85-81 in overtime back in early January. That loss to Temple was part of a rough start to AAC play for Wichita State, which has since won 10 of its last 12 games, including an impressive effort versus East Carolina in the conference tournament Thursday.

The Shockers played with fire against the Pirates, getting after every lose ball, crashing the boards for every rebound, and relentlessly attacking the basket. It allowed them to rest their starters in the second half in prep for what will be a physical matchup with Temple.

The Owls looked good in their last outing, picking up a resume win over Central Florida. However, a lot went into that victory that wasn’t counted in the box score. First: it was retiring head coach Fran Dunphy’s last home game, putting some urgency into the Owls. Second: UCF was ripe for a letdown after knocking off Cincinnati just two days prior. 

Before that win over the Knights, Temple was having second-half issues on defense. The Owls allowed the four prior opponents to put up 41, 39, 48, and 43 points in the final 20 minutes – after allowing only 37.9 points per second half on the year – perhaps showing some tired legs at the end of a long season. Wichita State will wear down the Owls and win this one outright. Shockers +120 moneyline.

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