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Houston vs UCF Odds, Picks: Tempo to Play Big Factor

Houston vs UCF Odds, Picks: Tempo to Play Big Factor article feature image
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Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Sasser

Houston vs. UCF Odds

Wednesday, Jan. 25
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Houston Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-9.5
-118
128.5
-104o / -118u
-600
UCF Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+9.5
-104
128.5
-104o / -118u
+420
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

After one of the biggest upsets of the season, No. 3 Houston hits the road to face UCF on Wednesday night in one of the biggest American Athletic Conference matchups on the calendar.

The Cougars dropped their second game of the year and first in conference play on Sunday, when Temple knocked them off with a 56-55 victory.

You have to expect that there will be a response following the loss, but this will be against a Knights squad that will be looking for revenge after losing the first game between the two teams on New Year’s Eve.

These are arguably the two best squads in the AAC, and this game will have loads of significance on the regular season and postseason titles. Let’s dive into this matchup to find the betting value in this important contest.


Houston Cougars

How will Houston respond to the loss on the court and in the polls? There were always going to be spots where coach Kelvin Sampson’s team could drop a game, but nobody was expecting that to happen at home against Temple.

Following the last regular season loss back in December to No. 2 Alabama, the Cougars held North Carolina A&T to 46 points in a blowout and went on the road to beat then No. 2 Virginia. However, they did drop consecutive games in the AAC last season against SMU and Memphis.

Even in the upset, Sampson’s squad still showed the stout defense that ranks inside the Top 5 in the nation in multiple categories, including AdjD, EFG%, 2-point defense and opponents’ 3-point%, according to barttorvik.com.

Offensively, the Cougars are led by guard Marcus Sasser, who is averaging 18 PPG and 4.1 APG in conference play. He is also one of the veterans of the program that will be needed from a leadership standpoint in this crucial matchup.

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UCF Knights

Houston is not the only team coming into this game with a loss as UCF has dropped back-to-back contests in the AAC to Tulane and South Florida.

The biggest disappointment of the two was allowing 85 points and losing the battle of the boards by 11 rebounds in the defeat to the in-state rival. The other trend that has happened recently is giving up huge numbers to the opposing team’s best scorer.

In the last three games, UCF has given up 42 points to Memphis’ Kendric Davis, 27 points to Tulane’s Jaylen Forbes and 33 to Tyler Harris of USF.

With the Knights falling out of the Next Four Out in ESPN’s Bracketology due to recent struggles, this is the perfect opportunity to secure a resume-building win to secure an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

Houston vs. UCF Betting Pick

These are two strong defensive teams that both enter this matchup pretty motivated after recent defeats, which leads me to the total as my favorite pick on the betting board.

So my best bet is for this contest to fall under the total of 126, which I’m hoping continues to climb from the opener of 121.5 at DraftKings.

Beyond the consecutive losses, the Knights have also struggled defensively in recent games, allowing an average of 80 PPG in regulation to Memphis, Tulane and USF. This led to coach Dawkins’ comments below about the frustrations defensively following the loss to South Florida.

"We didn't defend like we needed to defend," #UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said about his team's 85-72 point loss at USF. "We can't give up 85 points."

Full answer on what went wrong today: pic.twitter.com/sawEwjQmAA

— Jason Beede (@therealBeede) January 21, 2023

I have a feeling there were a lot of defensive drills in practice this week.

Another key aspect here is that one of UCF’s top scorers, Darius Johnson, is likely out for this game due to injury. In the first meeting, Johnson led the Knights with 17 points and four assists.

Once you add in the fact that both teams are outside the Top 330 in tempo, this seems to be a pretty big swing from the total in the first game which closed at 121.5.

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