AAC Preview and Free Pick
Cincinnati is in Disney World today preparing for a conference tilt against Central Florida. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET at CFE Arena in Orlando. The No. 19 Bearcats were the benefactors of UCF’s upset of the Houston Cougars this past weekend. The 69-64 win by the Knights over then-No. 8 Houston on Saturday moved Cincinnati into a tie with Cougars atop the conference standings. As a result of the Bearcats 71-69 victory over Memphis positions Cincinnati as co-leaders atop the AAC standings. AAC Preview and Free Pick: Bearcats +2.5 over Knights.
The Mick Cronin lead Bearcats continue be one of the most consistent basketball programs in the college ranks. Cronin and his staff have been winning games the easy and the hard way for nearly a decade. And the 2018-19 campaign is not different. The ‘Cats have won their last four games decided by five points or less. One of those closely contested victories was against tonight’s Central Florida squad.
The defensive minded Bearcats are led by All American candidate guard Jarron Cumberland. The senior scored 26-point in the team’s win over Memphis on Saturday. Cumberland has scored 20-plus point in 14 games this season. The versatile Cumberland ranks second in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage connecting on over 40 percent of his attempts from distance. He is second to teammate Justin Jenifer who hits nearly 44 percent from beyond the arc. The battery mate to Cumberland has scored 27 of his last 60 attempts from the three-point line across his last 11 games.
The backcourt tandem of B.J. Taylor and Aubrey Dawkins combine for over 30 points per game. The pair are bookended by frontcourt’rs Collin Smith and Tacko Fall.
Cincinnati earned the win in the first meeting between the two AAC foes. A big reason for the Bearcats victory was the defense played on the UCF 7-6 center. Fall was limited to just seven points and four rebounds. This college basketball Saturday AAC showdown stands side by side with the Senior Day celebration for Fall and Taylor.
UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins has petitioned the media about his squad being deserving of an NCAA championship tournament at large bid. Not yet. The Knights currently rest in third place in the American. Their resume’ was bolstered with last Saturday’s victory in Houston over the then-Top-10 Cougars. The Knights have won three in a row with their last loss coming against these very same Bearcats two weeks ago.
Cincinnati has earned 11 wins in the two school’s 12 all-time meetings. The Bearcats aim to sweep the Knights in the regular season series giving them a chance to secure back-to-back league championships for the first time since 2001 and 2002 when the team was part of Conference USA. With a win in combination with Houston holding serve against the SMU Mustangs tonight would set up a regular-season finale on Sunday in Cincinnati against the co-leaders of the AAC, Houston Cougars.
In conclusion the upstart Knights have just one win over Cincinnati in the history of the two programs. In addition UCF has never defeated two ranked opponents in a single season. The current status quo remains with a Cronin technical knockout of Dawkins. Back the Bearcats and gladly take the near field goal on CFE Arena court tonight.