The final day of the regular season features an AAC matchup of top-25 teams when the No. 12 Houston Cougars (28-2) travel to the Fifth Third Arena to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats (25-5). This will be the second time these two have faced each other this year with Houston winning the first matchup, 65-58. In that game, DeJon Jarreau led the way for the Cougars with 16 points and 5 assists. In the loss, Cincinnati’s Jarron Cumberland scored 27 points on 9 of 25 shooting. The rematch is set for Sunday with tipoff scheduled for 12:00 pm ET.
Coming into this one, Houston has won 13 of its last 14 games, with their lone loss coming on March 2to UCF, 69-64. The Cougars bounced back nicely against SMU on Thursday, winning 90-79. For the Bearcats, they had won 5 in a row before losing to UCF on Thursday, 58-55. Expect both teams to put it on the line as this game not only has huge implications for the conference but could have huge future implications for rankings and seedings.
In this contest, the Cincinnati Bearcats come in as 2-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for this game is set at 128.5 points.
By The Numbers
Defensively, both of these teams are some of the best in the entire country. Cincinnati currently ranks 10th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 61.3 points per game to opponents. For the Houston Cougars, they come in at 6th overall, allowing a measly 60.8 points per game. Houston is especially tough on opposing shooters, as teams are shooting just 36.9% from the field against them (good for 2nd in the country).
On the offensive side, it is once again Houston that dominates the stat line. They currently rank 89th in the country, scoring 76.1 points per game. For the Cincinnati Bearcats, they currently rank 203rd in the nation in scoring, averaging 71.7 points per game.
Houston Looking To Win Season Series Against Conference Foe
It has been a sensational year for coach Kelvin Sampson and the Houston Cougars. At 28-2 overall and 15-2 in the AAC, the Cougars hold their destiny in their own hands. With Cincinnati at 14-3, though, this isn’t the type of final game that is just a tune-up for the postseason, it definitely has meaning.
Leading the way this season for the Cougars has been senior guard Corey Davis Jr. On the season, Davis is averaging 16.2 points per game on 43% shooting. He is also averaging 3.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1 steal per game. The only other scorer averaging double-digits is guard Armoni Brooks. This season, Brooks is averaging 13.7 points and 6.5 rebounds.
While they may only have two scorers averaging double-digits, the Cougars have amazing depth. In fact, they have 6 players (not including the two previously mentioned) averaging 5 points or more. That kind of depth and versatility allows the Cougars to stay fresh, a big reason their defense has been so special this year.
Cincinnati Looking For Regular Season Finale Win At Home
While Houston may lead the conference, Cincinnati has quietly put together a really nice season. If they can put together one more win at home, they would put themselves into a tie of first place in the AAC.
Leading the way this season for Cincinnati has been guard Jarron Cumberland. This season, Cumberland is averaging 18.3 points on 40.6% shooting from the field and 40.4% from behind the arc. He is also averaging 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
The only other double-digit scorer is guard Keith Williams. On the season, Williams is averaging 10.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.2 steals. Like Houston, Cincinnati doesn’t have a lot of top-end scorers, but they do have depth. Aside from Cumberland and Williams, the Bearcats have four other players averaging 7.8 points or higher.
Taking The Cougars And The Points
I really think this is going to be an entertaining game. They both have phenomenal defenses, and while Houston may statistically have the better offense, Cincinnati has the better scorer in Jarron Cumberland. In fact, I think it is going to be so close that it might come down to just a possession or two that makes the difference. With the margin for error being so small, I have to take the team getting spotted the points, and in this matchup, that is the Houston Cougars. It would not shock me if Cincinnati wins at home, but I think the smart money is taking Houston and the 2 points.