NCAAB: Temple Owls vs. Houston Cougars Betting Preview
Sunday afternoon features a battle of two of the best teams in the American Athletic Conference when the Temple Owls (11-9, 5-2 in AAC) takes on the No. 1 Houston Cougars (18-1, 6-0 in the AAC). The Cougars will host this one at the Fertitta Center, with tipoff scheduled for 3:00 pm ET.
Temple comes into this one off of a 73-58 win over East Carolina in their last outing. In the win, Damian Dunn had a game-high 22 points, while Khalif Battle added 20 points and seven rebounds.
Since their lone loss to No. 4 Alabama back on December 10, the Houston Cougars have strung together nine straight victories, including an 80-60 win over Tulane in their last game. Marcus Sasser led the scoring for the Cougars with 23 points, while J’Wan Roberts and Jamal Shead combined for 29 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.
The Cougars are massive home favorites. They are -4500 to win, while the Owls’ moneyline sits at +1600. The spread features Temple as 20.5-point underdogs (-115), and the over/under for total points is 131.5 (-106).
Temple Looks For Massive Upset
At 5-2, the Owls have the second-best record in the AAC, and they would love nothing more than to upset the Cougars on their own floor. Luckily for Temple, they have played better on the road (4-2) this season than at home (6-5).
Temple currently ranks just 204th in the nation in scoring, averaging 69.3 points per game (63.9 on the road).
The team’s offense is led by sophomore guard Khalif Battle. This season, he is averaging 17.5 points on 39.9% shooting. He is also putting up 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and a steal per game.
The Owls have two others averaging double digits in sophomore guard Damian Dunn (15.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists) and forward Jamille Reynolds (11.1 points, 6.3 rebounds). Unfortunately for Temple, Reynolds remains out as he deals with a thumb injury.
Temple’s defense ranks 131st in the nation, allowing an average of 68.3 points per game to opponents (65.4 on the road).
Houston’s Defense Suffocates Opposing Offenses
Being the top-ranked team in the nation, it is not surprising that they would be elite on at least one side of the court. Defensively, they aren’t just solid, but they are the best in the nation, allowing opponents just 53.3 points per game (51.9 at home).
As an example, Houston just beat Tulane on the road by 20 points. Tulane ranks 17th in the nation in scoring at 80.7 points per game, but they could muster just 60 points against the Cougars’ elite defense.
Offensively, Houston is pretty solid as well. They rank 55th overall, averaging 76.2 points per game (78.1 at home). Leading the Cougars is senior guard Marcus Sasser. He is averaging 16.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.
The only others averaging double digits for Houston is junior guard Tramon Mark (10.3 points, 4.1 rebounds) and freshman Jarace Walker (10.1 points, 6.3 rebounds).
Take The Cougars To Win And Cover
Looking at the trends, Temple is 5-2 straight up and 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games. With that in mind, they are winless in their last five matchups against the Cougars and 1-4 against the spread in that span.
For Houston they have won nine in a row, and they are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight. The Cougars are also 11-3 against the spread in their last 14 games against AAC opponents.
20.5 points is a massive spread to be able to cover, but the Cougars are so dominant that it does not seem overwhelming. Temple’s offense is already not particularly strong, and it would not be surprising if they are absolutely smothered by the Cougars’ defense.
Expect Houston to dominate this one on both ends of the floor from tipoff and take them to both win and to cover the 20.5 point spread (-105).