Houston vs Wichita State Odds, Picks: First-Half Play to Make

Houston vs Wichita State Odds, Picks: First-Half Play to Make article feature image

Pictured: Houston Cougars forward Jarace Walker. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Houston vs Wichita State Odds

Thursday, Feb. 2
9 p.m. ET
Houston Odds
-105o / -115u
Wichita State Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

No. 3 Houston hits the road to play Wichita State in the lone American Athletic Conference game on Thursday night.

The Cougars responded to their first AAC loss with wins over UCF and Cincinnati. Houston is now 20-2 overall and 8-1 in conference play.

Meanwhile, the Shockers haven’t been the same program this season and are 11-10 record with no quality wins.

This is a great opportunity for the home team to pick up a victory over a top-five program, but I think the visitors will be too strong in this matchup.

Houston Cougars

One goal for the Cougars is to finish out the regular season without any bad losses to help secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston is No. 1 in the NET ratings with a pair of matchups against Memphis remaining on the schedule.

On the court, coach Kelvin Sampson’s squad is the only program in the country that is top five in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency, according to barttorvik.com.

It is the defensive end of the floor that gets the most attention, where the Cougars are ranked highly in EFG% (2nd), 2-point defense (2nd) and opponents’ 3-point% (4th). They can also force you into turnovers (21st TO%).

Offensively, guard Marcus Sasser leads the team in scoring at 16.2 PPG. He is joined by four teammates who are averaging double figures in conference play, making this one of the most complete rosters in the nation.

Wichita State Shockers

After making the Big Dance for seven straight seasons from 2012-2018, this Wichita State program has not had the same success since. In fact, the Shockers have been to the Big Dance just once since — in 2021.

The issues in this campaign are not on defense as the Shockers have quality metrics across the board and rank inside the top 70 in AdjD (64th), EFG% (19th) and opponents’ 2-point% (16th) and 3-point% (63rd).

Unfortunately, that has not carried over into conference play, where Wichita State has allowed 73.33 PPG in nine league games. If you remove the opener against UCF, the average rises to 76 PPG.

The Shockers do not have the scorers to keep up in these types of contests, and this will be their toughest test yet.

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Houston vs. Wichita State Betting Pick

At this point in the season, you have to get pretty creative if you are looking to back the Cougars in AAC play because their spreads are typically inflated. With that said, I do see an angle that has betting value in this game.

So, my best bet is to play Houston in the first half with a spread of -7 or better.

Coach Sampson’s squad is no stranger to fast starts. On the year, the Cougars are first in the country in first-half scoring margin at +13.6, which includes a mark of +9.8 away from home.

In true road games, Houston has either pushed or covered this same spread in the opening periods of all contests, except for at then-No. 2 Virginia and UCF. The Cougars were still leading at the break in those matchups.

Meanwhile, this is a Wichita State team that has struggled at the beginning of games at home — trailing Tulsa by 14, Cincinnati by 17 and East Carolina by four. The Shockers were also losing at halftime against Memphis UCF.

One other angle would be to play Wichita State to fall under its full-game team total if you can get the number around 60. The Shockers play at a very slow pace (270th) and are outside the top 275 in EFG% (280th) and 3-point shooting (335th).

I’m expecting Houston to continue to roll and think the Cougars will jump out to a commanding lead early.

Pick: Houston 1H -7 or Better

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