The Utah Valley Wolverines are set to host the Cincinnati Bearcats in the NIT Quarterfinals this evening. The Wolverines have gone 13-1 on their home floor this season but the Bearcats are coming off a game where they handed Hofstra its second home loss of the season, so don't expect them to be intimidated.
Oddsmakers are expecting a close contest with college basketball betting lines opening with this matchup as a pick'em. Here are my best free Cincinnati vs. Utah Valley college basketball picks for March 22.
Utah Valley vs Cincinnati best odds
Utah Valley vs Cincinnati picks and predictions
It's tough to fade Utah Valley at home but Cincinnati has a more well-balanced squad. The Bearcats rank 46th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom and are 54th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Meanwhile, Utah Valley is 33rd in adjusted defensive efficiency but ranks just 112th on offense. The Wolverines are outside the Top 250 in turnover rate and they shoot poorly from long range. Their best work comes on the inside where they finish at the rim at a high frequency. However, the Bearcats rank 10th in the country in defensive efficiency at the rim according to ShotQualityBets.
Cincinatti's Ody Oguama saw his minutes increase when big man Viktor Lakhin was sidelined by an injury on February 4, averaging 10.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game since. Lakhin (11.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) has returned to the lineup, but Oguama continues to receive plenty of minutes alongside him which gives Cincy a pair of big bodies to clog the paint.
The Wolverines do a great job of protecting the rim as well thanks to 7-foot center Aziz Bandaogo who is fourth in the country in blocks per game (2.9). However, the Bearcats have a versatile offense that can create on the perimeter and efficiently work from midrange. Look for Cincinnati's versatility and strong two-way play to lead to a victory here.
My best bet: Cincinnati moneyline (-105)
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Utah Valley vs Cincinnati spread analysis
These have been two of the best teams to bet on in college hoops, with Utah Valley boasting the best against-the-spread record (23-9 ATS) in the country and Cincinnati close behind at 23-11 ATS.
The Wolverines rolled to the best regular season in the WAC but suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the tournament semifinals when they squandered a 23-point lead and lost by a single point.
They've since bounced back with a pair of impressive victories in this tournament beating New Mexico and Colorado by double digits on the road. The Wolverines have gone 10-2 SU and ATS in their last 12 games
The Bearcats put together a nice regular season but it was always going to be an uphill battle to make March Madness with Houston and Memphis competing against them in the AAC. They've gone 6-2 SU and ATS in their last eight games with their only defeats during that span coming against those previously mentioned schools that both qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
Cincinnati began the NIT with an 81-72 home victory against Virginia Tech before dismantling Hofstra 79-65 on the road as a slim 1-point fave.
The Bearcats are led by point guard David DeJulius (14.7 points and 5.4 assists per game) and wing Landers Nolley II (16.7 ppg while shooting 41.6% from deep).
The Wolverines have three players averaging more than 13 ppg in guards Le'Tre Darthard (13.9 ppg), Justin Harmon (13.8 ppg), and Trey Woodbury (13.6 ppg).
Utah Valley vs Cincinnati Over/Under analysis
The total opened at 150.5 before quickly being bet down to 148.5. That line movement makes sense since the Wolverines are fourth in the country in opponent effective field goal percentage (44.2%) and the Under has gone 9-4-1 in their last 14 games.
Although the Wolverines' reputation is based on their stingy defense they've also been filling up the hoop lately. They've dropped more than 80 points in their last three games and are fresh off an 81-point performance against a Colorado team that ranks 29th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Bearcats are 39th in the country with 76.8 ppg against Div 1 foes. They've scored at least 79 points in four of their last five games with the only exception during that span coming against a Houston squad that plays at an extremely slow tempo and ranks fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Wolverines are stingy on defense but they play at an above-average pace, ranking 43rd in adjusted tempo and 116th in average length of possession (17.1 seconds). That's a tick faster than the Bearcats who average 17.3 seconds per offensive possession.
Utah Valley vs Cincinnati betting trend to know
The Under is 4-0 in the Bearcats' last four games. Find more college basketball betting trends for Utah Valley vs. Cincinnati.
Utah Valley vs Cincinnati game info
|Location:||UCCU Center, Orem, UT|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 22, 2023|
|Tip-off:||9:00 p.m. ET|