The No. 4 Houston Cougars visit the Texas Longhorns on Monday in Big 12 Conference action. The Cougars have bounced back from their two losses with four straight victories. The Longhorns have lost three of their last five NCAAB games to fall into an eighth-place tie in the Big 12 NCAAB standings. The teams haven’t met since 2013. The Houston vs Texas matchup shows the Cougars are favored by five points on the road and the total is at 129.
Tough Road Trip For Cougars
Visiting the Longhorns in Austin is never an easy time for the opposing team. Even if the Longhorns are down a notch this season, they’re still 10-2 at home. And it won’t get any easier after this game, as the Cougars visit Kansas.
But Houston can’t get caught looking ahead or could be in trouble. The Cougars are 11-8-1 against the spread this season but just 3-5 away from home. Houston relies on its defense, so seeing the team 6-14 in totals is no surprise. On the road, the Cougars are 3-5.
The defense gets all the attention, but Houston isn’t bad offensively. Despite playing at one of the slowest paces in the country, the Cougars average 73.9 points per game. Houston isn’t a great shooting team.
But the Cougars are No. 5 in the country in offensive rebounds and in the top 20 for fewest turnovers. You can afford to shoot at a lower percentage when you’re getting a number of extra shots off each game.
But the Cougars have the best defense in the country, according to the KenPom ratings. Houston allows just 40.3% shooting on 2-pointers and 28.3% on 3-pointers. The Cougars are No. 3 in the country in forcing turnovers.
The only real weakness is Houston is just a little better than average at preventing offensive rebounds. But the Cougars have ridden their defense and have consistently been in the top five in the college basketball rankings. Houston remains one of the favorites in the odds to win March Madness, with odds of +900.
Texas Defense Not There This Season
The Longhorns have relied on their defense in the past, but this year’s team is a little different. The Longhorns are No. 11 in the Big 12 Conference in defensive efficiency ratings.
In conference play, Texas is allowing 55.4% on 2-pointers and 38.5% on 3-pointers. The Longhorns do force some turnovers and are slightly better than average on the defensive boards.
Texas has picked up the offense a little bit, ranking No. 6 in the efficiency ratings. The Longhorns are shooting the ball well, making 39.2% on 3-pointers and 52.2% on 2-pointers. Texas doesn’t get to the foul line all that much and is average in getting offensive rebounds and turnovers.
But Texas hasn’t met expectations despite its 14-6 record. The Longhorns are just 6-14 against the spread and 11-8-1 in totals. Texas is 10-2 at home, but just 3-9 ATS. The Longhorns have been favored in 15 of their 20 games and are 2-3 when an underdog.
What to Expect
The Cougars are going to come out and play their slow, deliberate style. Houston is No. 350 in the country in adjusted pace ratings and No. 14 in the Big 12 Conference. The Houston Cougars aren’t about to change their style for anybody. Houston will look to get the ball inside first, where the Longhorns have struggled a bit defensively.
Texas plays a little more up-tempo than Houston, but typically doesn’t try to run up-and-down the court. The Longhorns have decent athletes and are shooting the ball well. But they’ll need to be patient against Houston and look for good shots.
Who to Bet On?
The Houston vs Texas matchup is a little bit intriguing as far as the side goes. You have Texas and its struggles against the point spread at home, but most of those losses occurred when the Longhorns were a home favorite. Texas has not been a home underdog all NCAA basketball season.
The Cougars are a name team, so its 11-8-1 ATS record isn’t bad at all, but Houston is just 1-3 against the number as an away favorite. You can make a case for both college basketball teams, which is what the sportsbooks want to see.
The Houston vs. Texas, matchup on the total, also yields some conflicting results. The Longhorns are 6-1 in totals in conference play. The Cougars are 3-4. This is the first time the Longhorns have played to a total below 130.
It will be the eighth time for the Cougars, who are 1-6 in the previous seven games. So when Houston is expected to have a defensive battle, the Cougars have delivered. Take the under 129 in this one.