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Houston Cougars vs Arizona Wildcats Betting Preview

Cap off a fantastic first day of Sweet 16 action with a battle in the Southern region between the No. 5 Houston Cougars (31-5) and the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats (33-3). This game will be played at the AT&T Center, with tipoff scheduled for 9:59 pm ET.

After winning the AAC tournament over Memphis, the Cougars have kept it going with wins over No. 12 UAB (82-68) and No. 4 Illinois (68-53) to make it to the round of 16.

In the win over Illinois, Taze Moore had a game-high 21 points while also adding seven rebounds. Kyler Edwards and Jamal Shead combined for 33 points in the victory.

Arizona has also been on a roll. After taking down UCLA in the Pac-12 championship, they have beaten No. 16 Wright State (87-70) and No. 9 TCU (85-80) to make it to the second weekend.

The Wildcats got amazing performances from Bennedict Mathurin (30 points, eight rebounds) and Christian Koloko (28 points, 12 rebounds) in their win over TCU.

Arizona is the slight favorite in this one. They are -126 to win while the Cougars’ moneyline sits at +105. The spread features Houston +1.5 (-110), and the over/under for total points is 145.5.

More Odds

In terms of winning the National Championship, Arizona has the third-best odds of the remaining 16 teams at +650. The Cougars are +850 to win it all.

By The Numbers

Arizona has one of the best offenses in the nation. They rank third in scoring averaging 84.6 points per game. Houston ranks 40th overall averaging 75.8 points.

Defensively, it is Houston with the advantage. They rank third in scoring defense as they are allowing opponents just 59 points per game. The Wildcats rank 127th allowing 67.9 points.

Cougars Trying To Win As Underdogs

This Houston team is for real. Having won over 30 games this season, they are showing the nation that they can be a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the floor during this tournament. With a hard-nosed defense, the Cougars will try to limit the damage from Arizona’s offense and pull off the upset Thursday.

While the defense gets most of the attention for Kevin Sampson’s squad, their offense has a lot of depth, with four players averaging double digits. Senior guard Kyler Edwards leads the Cougars averaging 13.9 points to go along with six rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.

Other major contributors for Houston include Fabian White Jr (13 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks), Josh Carlton (11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds), and Taze Moore (10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists).

Arizona Feeling Rejuvenated After Close Call Against TCU

At this point in the season, it is all about surviving and moving onto the next round. With that being said, Arizona’s overtime scare against TCU had to be a wake-up call for the Wildcats. Trying to utilize that as motivation, Arizona will look to find more consistency on both ends of the floor Thursday night.

Leading Arizona’s high-octane offense is sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin. This season, he is averaging 17.8 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including 37.2 percent from behind the arc. He is also averaging 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and a steal per game.

The Wildcats have two others averaging double digits in Azuolas Tubelis (14.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals) and Christian Koloko (12.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.8 blocks).

Take Houston And The Points

This should be a fantastic battle between Houston’s defense versus Arizona’s offense. The Cougars have not allowed more than 68 points this tournament and have only allowed it once in its last ten games. During Arizona’s current win streak, they have scored at least 80 in every game.

The variable in this one is Houston’s offense. Averaging 75.8 points, they have the capability to keep up with the Wildcats’ and their mediocre defense. Still, if Houston has their preference, it will be to slow down the game like they did against Illinois.

If this one turns into a shootout, the advantage probably lies with Arizona, but expect this to be close throughout. Don’t be surprised if this comes down to just one or two possessions, and for that reason, the most value lies in taking Houston and the 1.5 points.

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