Who: #7 Cincinnati (22-2, 11-0 AAC) @ SMU (18-5, 7-3 AAC)
When: 6:30 PM CT on ESPNU/WatchESPN
Where: Moody Coliseum in Dallas, TX
Analysis: Will anybody be able to score? Both of these teams are terrific defensively so this game could easily finish in the 50s. According to kenpom.com, Cincinnati is fifth nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency while SMU is 17th. The biggest challenge for the Mustangs will be stopping Sean Kilpatrick (19.7 PPG), who leads the AAC in scoring. If Larry Brown’s squad can slow down Kilpatrick, they should be able to contain Cincinnati offensively. SMU will also have a tough time getting good looks due to the suffocating Bearcat defense. Guards Nic Moore (45.6 3PT%) and Keith Frazier (35.9 3PT%) need to hit their outside shots to keep pace with the seventh ranked team in the country.
Key Matchup: SMU F Markus Kennedy vs. Cincinnati F Justin Jackson. Kennedy has become a dynamic offensive threat for the Mustangs while Jackson is a shot-blocking machine. In the last two games, Kennedy is 16-19 from the field with 38 points. Jackson is fourth in the nation and first in his conference in total blocks with 78. If the Bearcats’ big man can neutralize Kennedy, his team will have a good chance of moving to 12-0 in AAC play.
Prediction: Back on New Year’s day, the Ponies gave Mick Cronin’s boys one of their stiffest challenges in a 65-57 loss in Cincinnati. Each team is still undefeated at home on the season and I don’t expect that to change. Moody Coliseum was rocking last Saturday against Memphis. I’m betting it’s even louder on this Saturday. Ultimately, the home court advantage will serve as the difference in this game. SMU pulls off the upset 62-57 and puts itself back in the running for a regular season conference championship.