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Cincinnati is favored in season opener over visiting Ohio State

Ohio State vs Cincinnati Betting Odds

The season gets underway for both the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Ohio State Buckeyes when the two tip off at Fifth Third Arena tonight. This is the first meeting between these two schools since they duked it out in the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA Tournament with Ohio State earning an 81-66 win, but Cincinnati is a 5.5-point favorite in tonight’s game with the total opening at 136 points.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone UNDER in five of Cincinnati’s last seven games (avg. combined score: 124.57).
  • Ohio State is 7-2 SU in its last nine games on the road.
  • Ohio State is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as an underdog of 5.5 or more.

Ohio State vs Cincinnati Game Center

Ohio State looks to fill the void from lost players

The Buckeyes were a surprise story last year after head coach Thad Matta parted ways with the team midsummer before the season. Chris Holtmann left Butler to accept the job as the new head coach and led the school to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2014-15 season. Ohio State was led by small forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop, the latter earning Big Ten player of the year honors. However, both players have moved on from the school as Tate is playing in the PBL in Belgium, while Bates-Diop was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

All is not lost, though, as Ohio State is returning senior guard C.J. Jackson, who averaged 12.6 points per game last season, and sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson, who averaged 10.2 ppg. Additionally, the school was able to land top-100 prospect Jaedon LeDee, ranked as the 16th-best power forward in the nation and 61st-best prospect overall. The Buckeyes had the 25th-best shooting percentage from the floor last season, hitting 48.5 percent of their shots.

Cincinnati’s experienced backcourt should lead the team

The Bearcats are coming off their best season since joining the AAC in 2013, posting a 31-5 record, including a 16-2 conference record, and finishing first in the conference. However, once again the school failed to advance further than the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament and has not reached the Sweet 16 since the 2011-12 season. It will be a different look on the court in tonight’s season opener, though, as Cincinnati lost four players (three of them from the frontcourt) at the end of last year, with three players graduating and Jacob Evans being drafted 28th overall by the Golden State Warriors.

Never count out head coach Mick Cronin, though, as he has coached his teams to an average of 26.6 wins per season in the AAC and his teams have ranked in the top 25 defensively in the nation in each of the last eight seasons. The Bearcats did lose their look in the frontcourt but are returning two players in the backcourt who should anchor the team as the new players get up to speed. Junior guard Jarron Cumberland averaged 11.5 points per game last season, while also grabbing four rebounds per game, and senior guard Cane Broome averaged 7.9 ppg but only played 20.5 minutes per game.

UNDER trending in tonight’s game

There are signs pointing toward the UNDER for tonight’s season opener and Bovada has the total opening at 136 points. Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin preaches defense first and has ranked in the top 25 in defensive efficiency in each of the last eight seasons and I wouldn’t expect anything different this year. Meanwhile, Ohio State has gone UNDER in 10 of its last 14 regular-season games with an average combined score of 135. Lastly, Cincinnati has gone UNDER in 10 of its last 15 regular-season games with an average combined score of 117.93.

My take on Ohio State vs Cincinnati

I like Ohio State +5.5 in tonight’s season opener. I think Cincinnati will take some time to get back in the swing of things after the mass exodus of players from last year. Needing players to instantly step up in the frontcourt is a tough task. On the other side, the Buckeyes have more established returning players, while bringing in a top-100 prospect in Jaedon LeDee, they could be poised for another strong season under Chris Holtmann. Lastly, Ohio State is 4-1 ATS in its last five games as an underdog of 5.5 points or more and Cincinnati is 3-6 ATS in its last nine regular-season games.