USF-Houston prediction, pick, how to watch
The USF Bulls (7-9) visit the #1 Houston Cougars (16-1) on Wednesday night. Action tips start at 8:00 PM ET. Below we continue our series of College Basketball picks with a USF-Houston prediction and pick.
USF has lost three straight and is now 0-3 and in last place in the AAC. The Bulls covered 56% of their plays while 69% went over the projected point total. Houston has won nine straight and is 4-0 and in first place in the AAC. The Cougars covered 71% of their plays while going down 59%. Their only common opponent is St. Josephs. Houston defeated St. Joseph’s by 31, while USF beat them by 13.
Here are the USF-Houston college basketball odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
College basketball odds: USF-Houston odds
USF: +23.5 (-115)
Houston: +23.5 (-105)
Over: 130.5 (-114)
Under: 130.5 (-106)
How to watch USF vs. Houston
Time: 8pm ET/ 5pm PT
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Why USF can cover the spread
South Florida faces an uphill battle tonight as they visit the No. 1 in the country. USF has lost 12 of its last 13 games against Houston, with their last win coming in 2016. The Bulls are ranked No. 174 in KenPom despite playing in the 309th ranked game. They are ranked 199th in NET rating and have gone 0-3 against Quad 1 and Quad 2 teams. While they are unlikely to win outright tonight, USF can cover the spread thanks to their ability down low.
USF is a solid rebounding team, ranking 68th in the nation with 37.4 RPG. They are especially strong on the offensive glass where they rank 32nd with 10.8 ORPG. This could be a critical part of today’s game because of Houston’s tendency to give up second chance points. Houston allows 8.1 ORPG – 143rd in the nation. USF averages 70.4 PPG (No. 170) and allows 68.3 PPG (No. 134).
Down, the bulls tend to the 7’0″, 280 lbs. center Russel Tchewa. Tchewa is averaging 11.1 PPG and 7.9 RPG while shooting 62% from the floor. The junior has been on a tear lately as he’s pulled down double-digit rebounds in each of his last four games. He has steadily improved as a scorer as the season has gone on and is coming off his best two games of the season. Tchewa scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in their loss to Wichita State. The game before that, he dropped 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Temple. Houston is a completely different animal than its previous two opponents, but its recent play should give USF fans confidence in their ability to compete down the stretch.
Why Houston can cover the spread
Houston sits atop the AP poll as the No. 1-ranked Cougars have lost just one game this season. They are off to a 4-0 start in AAC play and already have three double-digit conference wins. The Cougars are ranked No. 1 in KenPom, but have only played the program’s 137th-toughest strength. They are ranked first in the NET as well and have gone 7-1 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 matches while maintaining a perfect 9-0 record against Quad 3 and Quad 4. With a 71% coverage rate, the Cougars have been among the winningest teams in college basketball this season. They have a great chance to cover the spread once again thanks to their stifling defense.
Houston has the best defense in the country, at least on paper. The Cougars rank first in points allowed (51.5 Opp. PPG) and have held opponents to the lowest FG percentage in the country (38.7%). Houston is an elite rebounding team that ranks eighth in rebounding (40.4 RPG). They do a good job forcing turnovers as well, ranking 43rd (15.4 Op. TOPG). On the other hand, USF is a weak offensive team that ranks 170th in scoring (70.3 PPG) and 164th in turnovers (12.8 TOPG).
Offensively, the Cougars are an experienced, veteran team that doesn’t mind scoring when needed. Houston ranks 58th in scoring (75.5 PPG) and 42nd in FG% (47%). They are led by senior point guard Marcus Sasser. A four-year starter, Sasser is a reliable scorer from all levels of the court. For the season, he leads the team with 15.9 PPG. Although his outside shooting hasn’t dropped as much as it has in the past (career-low 33% from three), he’s still averaging over two 3-pointers per game. He has scored in double figures in seven straight games and should reach eight points tonight.
Sasser is the obvious primary option for the Cougars, but they have a number of other capable weapons on offense. Freshman Jerace Walker (10.4 PPG and 6.1 RPG) and junior J’wan Roberts (9.9 PPG and 7.4 RPG) do the heavy lifting down low. Walker in particular has been hot, scoring 44 points in his last two games.
Final USF-Houston preview and pick
Houston has been quiet against the spread this season and I don’t see that changing here against a middling USF team.
USF-Houston Final Prediction and Pick: Houston Cougars -23.5 (-105)