Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Thursday's Tip Sheet

Cincinnati at UCF (-2 ½, 125 ½) – 7:00 PM EST – ESPN2

Houston and Cincinnati enter Thursday’s action tied atop the AAC at 14-2 as the two league co-leaders hook up Sunday in southern Ohio. The Bearcats (25-4 SU, 12-17 ATS) embark on their final regular season road game to Orlando looking for the season sweep of UCF (22-6 SU, 17-10-1 ATS).

In the first matchup at Fifth Third Arena on February 21, the Bearcats held off the Knights, 60-55 in a grind-it-out affair. UCF grabbed the cover as 7 ½-point underdogs, but the Knights went through an ice-cold stretch in the first half after jumping out to an 11-3 advantage. The Knights scored only seven points in the final 16 minutes of the first half, but started the second half on an 18-2 run to grab a 36-28 lead.

The offense dried up once again as the Knights couldn’t hold a five-point lead with nine minutes remaining as Cincinnati outscored UCF, 22-12 down the stretch to beat the Knights for the ninth time in the past 10 matchups since 2014. Nine of those meetings finished UNDER the total, which includes a 49-38 victory in Orlando last season in which UCF was limited to 19 points in each half.

Cincinnati has won five straight games since losing at Houston on February 10, capped off by a two-point home victory against Memphis last Saturday. However, the Bearcats failed to cash as 9 ½-point favorites, marking the sixth consecutive contest that Mick Cronin’s club didn’t cover the spread.

On the flip side, UCF has been terrific cashing tickets of late by posting a 7-0 SU/ATS mark the last seven games. The most recent victory for the Knights came in Saturday’s 69-64 road upset of Houston as seven-point ‘dogs to open the door for Cincinnati to capture its second consecutive AAC title.

Iowa at Wisconsin (-7 ½, 140 ½) - 7:00 PM EST – ESPN

Both these Big 10 squads will receive at-large bids in the NCAA tournament in a few weeks. However, the Hawkeyes and Badgers are looking to improve their seeding for the Big 10 tournament next week in Chicago as the top three seeds are spoken for by Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue.

Wisconsin (20-9 SU, 14-14-1 ATS) has struggled to cover numbers of late by compiling an 0-5-1 ATS ledger the last six games. The Badgers rallied past Penn State on Saturday, 61-57, but couldn’t pick up the ATS win as 6 ½-point home favorites. Wisconsin shot only 40% from the floor and were on their way to a second straight loss after getting stunned by Indiana in overtime, but the Badgers outscored the Nittany Lions in the second half, 35-24 to improve to 5-1 in the last six home contests.

Iowa (21-8 SU, 12-17 ATS) has been just as bad as Wisconsin in terms of cashing tickets recently by posting an 0-6 ATS mark the last six trips to the court. The Hawkeyes are coming off consecutive losses to Ohio State and Rutgers by double-digits each, but Saturday’s setback was an eye-opener. Rutgers jumped out to a nine-point halftime lead and never looked back in an 86-72 upset as 8 ½-point road underdogs, while sending Iowa to 0-4 ATS the past four games in Iowa City.

The Badgers tripped up the Hawkeyes on the road early in Big 10 play back in November, 72-66 as 1 ½-point favorites. Iowa has cashed in three of its previous four visits to Madison, while grabbing a 59-57 victory as 12-point underdogs last March.

SMU at Houston (-13 ½, 137) – 9:00 PM EST – ESPN

The Cougars (27-2 SU, 19-9-1 ATS) are coming off only their second loss of the season on Saturday as Houston fell at home to UCF, 69-64. It was the first time since December 20 against Utah State that Houston was limited to fewer than 65 points (60), while the Cougars squandered a five-point halftime lead to suffer their first home defeat since falling to SMU in February 2017.

The Mustangs (13-15 SU, 10-17-1 ATS) aren’t the same team this season as they were when they captured the AAC regular season title in 2017. SMU has slumped to a 5-11 league mark this season, while losing eight of its past nine contests. The only victory in this span came against UConn in an 18-point blowout on February 21, while the Mustangs are coming off back-to-back home defeats to Cincinnati and Wichita State.

Amazingly in the last matchup in Dallas back in January, the Mustangs closed as a 1 ½-point home favorite. To no one’s surprise, Houston cruised past SMU, 69-58 as Corey Davis, Jr. led the Cougars with 20 points. The Mustangs were limited to 38% shooting from the floor in spite of Jimmy Whitt, Jr. converting 9-of-11 attempts from the field. Since SMU won at Houston two seasons ago, the Cougars have taken the past three matchups with the Mustangs.

UCLA at Colorado (-6, 149 ½) – 9:00 PM EST – ESPN2

The Buffaloes (17-11 SU, 14-14 ATS) have put together an impressive turnaround in Pac-12 play as CU overcame a 2-6 start in the league to win six of its past eight contests. Colorado rebounded from a pair of road losses two weeks ago at Washington State and Washington to beat rival Utah at home last Saturday, 71-63 as 5 ½-point home favorites.

That victory improved the Buffaloes to 5-2 at home inside the league, while CU owns a perfect 8-0 ATS record when they win in Pac-12 play and is 0-8 ATS in conference losses. Colorado seeks the season sweep of UCLA (16-13 SU, 12-17 ATS) as the Buffaloes pulled away from the Bruins in Los Angeles on February 6 in an 84-73 triumph. The Buffs cashed as six-point ‘dogs, while helping themselves by knocking down 13 three-pointers and hitting 15-of-16 free throw attempts.

The Bruins have gone through many ups and downs in Pac-12 play, but are currently on the upswing after winning three straight home games against Oregon, Oregon State, and USC. In the latest victory over the rival Trojans, the Bruins needed overtime in a 93-88 triumph to pull off a season split with USC. UCLA has performed well in the front-end of Pac-12 sets by going 5-2, including three road wins at Oregon, Washington, and Washington State. However, the Bruins own a 1-8 SU/ATS record in the underdog role this season, so will have to give in Boulder this evening.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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