Thursday College Basketball Betting Guide: Temple-Houston, Xavier-Georgetown

Thursday College Basketball Betting Guide:  Temple-Houston, Xavier-Georgetown article feature image

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Travis Steele and Paul Scruggs

In both the Wizard of Oz and the college basketball world, there truly is no place like home.

While most of the country battles the arctic blast, we take a deep dive on two home teams that look to score big conference wins.

Let’s travel to the ACC and Big East to preview Temple at Houston and Xavier at Georgetown.

>> All odds as of 8:30 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and win probabilities on your bets.

Betting Odds: Temple Owls at Houston Cougars

  • Spread: Houston -10
  • Over/Under: 
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

Temple (15-5) is tied for third place in the American Athletic Conference just a game and a half behind first place. That’s in part because the Owls gave Houston its only loss on Jan. 9 in a 73-69 in Philadelphia.

Houston (20-1) has been one of the best teams in college basketball all season. The Cougars are a perfect 15-0 at home with an average margin of victory of 18.2 points. Houston is 11-4 overall ATS including 6-3 at home.

Temple’s win over Houston came at a time when the Owls were playing at a very high level. The Cougars were in the midst of a four-game AAC winning streak, including overtime wins over Wichita State and South Florida.

But a lot has changed since that game.

The Owls have lost two of their last three, with all three games being at home.  Their defense has gotten precipitously worse, and currently, the Owls rank last in the ACC allowing 55.4% from 2-point range in their conference games.

Temple struggles on the boards, ranking 263rd in offensive rebounding percentage. They are also weak on the interior, averaging only 2.3 blocks per game (297th in the nation).

Since the loss to Temple, Houston has won five consecutive games by an average of 17 points per game. The Cougars are second in the nation in defensive effective field goal percentage and 3-point percentage allowed.

In their conference games, the Cougars have also dominated on offense.  They rank first in the ACC in adjusted offensive efficiency and free throw percentage (77%) while shooting 37.7% from 3-point range.

In their loss at Temple, the Cougars shot 43.8% (14 of 32) from the field and 64.7% (11 of 17) from the free throw line. Both numbers will be much improved on their home court in the Fertitta Center.

The Cougars will be ready for revenge for their only loss of the season. Their strenghth on the boards and stifling defense at home will limit Temple’s scoring opportunities. Houston’s explosive offense will score easily against a slumping Temple defense.

The Cougars get revenge in a big way on Thursday night.

THE PICK:  Houston -10

Xavier Musketeers at Georgetown Hoyas

  • Spread: Georgetown -3
  • Over/Under: 153
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

Xavier is not playing at the same high level of past seasons. Its 165th adjusted defensive efficiency rank is the lowest in the KenPom metric era. The Musketeers do not force turnovers (280th in the country) and allow opponents to shoot a robust 37% 3-point percentage (including 38.3 in conference).

Offensively within the conference, Xavier has actually been worse. They only have a 49% effective field goal percentage while shooting just 30.2% 3P. Both marks are second worst in the Big East.

Georgetown has the second most efficient offense in Big East play, highlighted by the conference best 40.9% 3-point percentage.

On defense, the Hoyas have held Big East opponents to 49.7% from 2-point range, which ranks second-best. Georgetown is always tough on the interior, and rate 72nd in the country with 4.3 blocks per game.

The biggest key to this matchup is the addition of freshman Mac McClung (13.9 ppg) and senior Trey Mourning (6.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg). Both players missed the first game with injuries — an 81-75 Xavier win.

Since his return, McClung is averaging 18.8 ppg while shooting 41.3% from beyond the arc.

Xavier is 0-2 in its last two Big East road games, losing by an average of 14 points. Georgetown’s superb efficiency on offense and usual tough defense is too much for the Musketeers to overcome on the road.

The return of McClung and Mourning make the difference in a comfortable Georgetown win.

THE PICK:  Georgetown -3