Western Michigan at Cincinnati
When and Where: Monday, Nov. 19, Fifth/Third Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio, 7 p.m. EST.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin thinks he has a go-to scorer in Jarron Cumberland. He just needs Cumberland to think likewise as the Bearcats face Western Michigan on Monday night.
Broncos seek high-profile road win
Western Michigan (3-1) is playing its third road game, having been routed at Mississippi before winning in overtime against in-state rival Oakland. The Broncos stepped out of Division I play over the weekend, pummeling Aquinas College 99-52 on Saturday.
Josh Davis scored 15 points as no starter logged more than 23 minutes. Western Michigan hit 16 of 29 from 3-point range — its reserves combined to make 10 of 18 — and shot 57.4 percent overall.
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— WMU Men's Basketball (@WMUMBB) November 17, 2018
Even factoring in its 90-64 loss at Ole Miss, Western Michigan is averaging 84.2 points through its first four games, its highest four-game mark since 1970. Davis is averaging 15.0 points, second to seven-foot center Seth Dugan, who is averaging team bests of 17.5 points and 11.8 rebounds while recording a pair of double-doubles.
Dugan is a key reason the Broncos are outrebounding opponents by 10.3 per contest. Kawanise Wilkins is the other player scoring in double figures, averaging 10.3 points. Western Michigan is shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range but had made just 19 in its first three games before Saturday’s romp.
The Broncos have lost 14 straight games to schools from major conferences since a 58-53 victory at South Florida in 2012, with all of those games being played on the road or at neutral sites.
Cronin out to make Cumberland a leader
After losing Jacob Evans and Gary Clark to graduation, the Bearcats (2-1) were going to lean on Cumberland, who averaged 11.5 points last season. The junior has improved his scoring average to 15.3 in the early going, but Cronin wants his go-to player to embrace that role full time.
“I’ve got to do a better job of coaching him,” Cronin told the school’s official website after the Bearcats beat Milwaukee 74-63 on Friday night. “He’s got to come out with a much more focused mindset at the start of games if he’s going to be our best player. He’s got a bad habit of picking spots to play. He’s never going to be a dominant player doing that and our team can’t take on that personality.”
— Cincinnati Men’s Hoops (@GoBearcatsMBB) November 17, 2018
Cumberland had 14 points as all five Cincinnati starters scored in double figures, but the Bearcats did not get any separation from the Panthers until Cumberland’s 3-pointer with 9:53 left sparked a 12-2 burst and gave them the lead for good.
Cane Broome scored 17 points as Cincinnati shot 50 percent overall but made only 4 of 19 from 3-point range. The Bearcats are shooting just 25.4 percent from beyond the arc this season and their defense has yet to really dig in, allowing opponents to shoot 41.3 percent compared to last season’s mark of 37.4.
“If you’re going to be able to beat high-major teams that are good, solid teams, you’ve got to be able to play for 40 minutes,” Cronin said. “Take our three games. I’ll bet we’re giving up over 40 percent from the field. If you don’t play defense, you’re an average team at best.”
- 0-4 ATS in its last four home games as a favorite.
- 1-5 ATS in its last six home games as a favorite of 13 or more points.
- 1-5 ATS in its last six games following a straight up win.
- The under is 7-3 in its last 10 games.
- The under is 7-3 in its last 10 games as a favorite of 13 or more points.
- The under is 6-1 in its last seven Monday games.
Western Michigan is:
- 4-1 ATS in its last five games as an underdog.
- 4-1 ATS in its last five games as a road underdog.
- The under is 16-7 in its last 23 games following a straight up win.
- The under is 4-1 in its last five games following a straight up win by more than 20 points.
- The under is 5-1 in its last six Monday games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Cincinnati is still transitioning to its new offense with Cumberland and Broome as its primary scorers, and while it should win this game by three or more possessions, it feels like the number is too big against a Western Michigan team that has the offensive capability to keep this game competitive for at least 30 minutes.
Prediction: Pick: Western Michigan +16
Full-Game Total Pick
This will be close, but the belief is Cincinnati’s defense will push Western Michigan into another slow start and then control the tempo. That will take the Broncos out of their comfort zone while the Bearcats get to 70 first for the win.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 135.5 points
Full-Game Prop Bet
Cincinnati has been all over the place in the first half, ranging from being down eight points to up 15, and were tied after 20 minutes against Milwaukee. The Broncos have started slow in both their road games, trailing Ole Miss by 21 at halftime and Oakland by nine before rallying to win that game. The hedge here is Cincinnati gets right defensively and squeaks out a cover.
Prediction: Pick: Cincinnati -10
Half-Time Side Pick
Cincinnati’s 66-point first half against Milwaukee last time out represented its high-water mark through the first three games. Western Michigan has been at 63 and 65 in its two road games. This will be one to sweat out, but Cronin’s complaints about his team’s defense were likely addressed at practice leading up to this game and the Bearcats will make the under deliver.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 64 points