Memphis (18-9. 8-6) at Cincinnati (24-3, 13-1)
When: Thursday, February 23rd 2017
Where: Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, OH
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Cincinnati Bearcats look to stay atop the American Athletic Conference standings when they host the struggling Memphis Tigers on Thursday night. Both Cincinnati and SMU have one loss in conference play heading down to the final few games. The No. 16 Bearcats have won two straight games by double digits since the loss to No. 21 SMU on February 12th. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin won his 300th game Saturday with an 80-60 tune-up against Tulsa as the Bearcats pulled away in the second half while shooting 56% from the field overall. Leading scorer Kyle Washington, a junior forward, leads four players scoring in double figures (13.8) and shoots 53.2% from the field while sophomore guard Jacob Evans (13.4) and junior forward Gary Clark (10.2, team-high 8.0 rebounds) are key contributors. Senior guard Troy Caupain (10.1, team-most 4.6 assists) reached double figures Saturday (11) for the first time in five games. Guard Jarron Cumberland (7.3 points) sat out Saturday’s game because of a curfew violation and his status for the Memphis contest is up in the air.
Memphis is seeing their hopes of an NCAA Tournament at-large bid fade away with three losses in its last four games after coughing up a 15-point lead in a 65-62 loss at Connecticut last Thursday. Leading scorer Dedric Lawson (19.5) has scored at least 27 in three of four games before managing 12 on 4-of-12 shooting against UConn. Lawson leads the conference in rebounds (10.1) with his freshman brother K.J. third at 8.5 while scoring 12.2 per game, despite going 11-of-39 from the field the last four games. Junior guard Markel Crawford is second on the team in scoring (14.1, 50% shooting) and is averaging 16.3 over his past three games. Guard Craig Randall II scored 13 last Thursday, his highest total since recording 15 against Iowa way back on November 26th. Memphis needs some resume building wins in order to make the Big Dance and will play the top three teams in the league in their final four games.
Memphis is a good enough team to stay within single-digits here. They are pretty good at coming back from a loss all year and covering the spread at least in the next game. Memphis is also 9-4-1 ATS against the Bearcats in the last 14 meetings.
Pick: Memphis +12.5
HEAD TO HEAD