Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#623 UCF 132.5 vs.
#624 Tulane -1.5
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 8:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#623 University of Central Florida
#624 Tulane University
9-7
10-6
8-7
11-5
6-9
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69
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The UCF Knights will travel to Fogelman Arena in New Orleans, Lousiana on Tuesday evening as they prepare for an American Athletic Conference showdown against the Tulane Green Wave.

We’re two weeks into the conference season and UCF finds itself still searching for their elusive first AAC victory. The Knights enter riding a five-game slide and they dropped to 0-4 in AAC play with another loss last weekend. Meanwhile, Tulane opened the AAC season with four straight quality opponents but managed to escape with a 2-2 conference record during that span. The Green Wave earned their first quality wins of the season with Tier-B victories over Cincinnati and Temple. Can UCF earn its first conference win of the season on the road against a feisty Tulane team?

UCF can't stop slide vs. Cincinnati

UCF lost its fifth straight contest on Saturday, coming up short 68-54 at home versus Cincinnati. Collin Smith led the Knights with 19 points and nine rebounds while Brandon Mahan chipped in 13 points for the Knights, who shot just 1-for-9 from 3-point range on the night. UCF actually led 29-26 at halftime but the Knights were outscored by 17 points in a decisive second half.

Johnny Dawkins will need to find a way to get the Knights to snap out of their season-long five-game funk. The Knights enter with a 9-7 record after losing all four of their league games and they come into the week slotted at No. 117 in the latest KenPom rankings. UCF has scored 99.7 points per 100 possessions (187th in the NCAA) while allowing 95.2 points per 100 possessions on the defensive end (84th in the NCAA).

Efficiency has escaped the Knights on offense, especially from behind the arc, where they have shot a paltry 29.3 percent for the season (315th in the NCAA). The Knights also sport an effective field goal percentage of just 48.0 percent (229th in the NCAA), thanks in part to their struggles from the free-throw line. Through 16 games, UCF has shot just 67.9 percent from the charity stripe as a team (244th in the NCAA). Instead, the Knights have been forced to make up points by crashing the offensive glass. As a result, they have hauled in an impressive 32.3 percent of their total missed field goal attempts (62nd in the NCAA) on the year.

On defense, UCF thrives by forcing turnovers and holding opposing teams to tough shots. The Knights have held opponents to an effective field goal percentage of only 47.8 percent (125th in the NCAA) while forcing them to turn the ball over 20.7 percent of the time (97th in the NCAA).

Tulane beats Temple on the road

Tulane earned its second road win of the season over the weekend, defeating Temple 65-51 to improve to 2-2 in AAC play. Teshaun Hightower and Jordan Walker scored 17 points apiece while KJ Lawson chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Green Wave, who forced 18 turnovers and limited Temple to just 5-for-24 shooting from 3-point range in the win.

Ron Hunter’s first season at Tulane has largely been a success, as he’s managed to turn around a program that went just 4-27 a year ago. The former Georgia State head coach has already more than doubled Tulane’s win total from a year ago and the Green Wave enter the week ranked No. 155 in the latest KenPom rankings. Hunter’s squad has scored 102.7 points per 100 possessions (130th in the NCAA) for the season while turning the ball over on just 16.7 percent of their offensive possessions (37th in the NCAA). Tulane has also shot a healthy 37.2 percent from 3-point range (32nd in the NCAA) and it gets to the free-throw line at a 35.6 percent clip (94th in the NCAA), which has helped buoy their overall efficiency numbers.

On defense, the Green Wave are reliant on forcing turnovers to get stops. They come in allowing 101.2 points per 100 possessions (181st in the NCAA) while forcing their opponents to turn the ball over 24.0 percent of the time (23rd in the NCAA). However, once that pressure is broken, opposing teams have managed to shoot an effective field goal percentage of 51.5 percent (254th in the NCAA) versus Tulane’s defense, including a whopping 53.2 percent from 2-point range (289th in the NCAA).

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Tulane generates a lot of turnovers on defense and they take care of the ball on offense, which should give them the advantage in this one. UCF has struggled to squeeze the orange this season, turning the ball over on 19.4 percent of its offensive possessions for the season (171st in the NCAA) and they’ve been terrible on both ends during conference play. Through four AAC games, UCF has scored only 91.6 points per 100 possessions (9th in AAC) and they’ve allowed 106.3 points per 100 possessions on defense, which ranks dead-last in the conference. Take Tulane to cover the number at home against the struggling Knights on Tuesday night.

Prediction: Tulane Green Wave -1.5

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Neither of these teams has been very efficient offensively and they both play at a relatively slow pace. UCF ranks 233rd in the NCAA) in adjusted tempo and 197th in average possession length on offense, while the Green Wave rank 250th and 159th in those categories coming into this game. That means we’re going to be treated to a relatively slow-paced game between two inefficient offenses. Take the under in this AAC battle on Tuesday night.

Prediction: Under 132.5
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.