Houston vs East Carolina Odds & Picks: The First-Half Bet to Make

Houston vs East Carolina Odds & Picks: The First-Half Bet to Make article feature image

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: J’Wan Roberts & Reggie Chaney (Houston)

Houston vs East Carolina Odds

Saturday, Feb. 25
8 p.m. ET
Houston Odds
-110o / -110u
East Carolina Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

No. 1 Houston looks to secure the AAC regular season title with a victory at East Carolina on Saturday night.

The Cougars are rated as the best team in the country by multiple rankings, coming into this game at 26-2 overall and 14-1 in conference play.

Meanwhile, the Pirates have won three of their last four to improve to 5-9 in the AAC. They are attempting to secure a better seed for the conference tournament.

If the Cougars want to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the league leaders can’t afford to drop this game, and I expect them to show great intensity to avoid a letdown.

Houston Cougars

Is Houston the best team in the country? Most popular rankings and rating systems would say yes to this question, including KenPom, Bart Torvik, NET rankings and all major polls.

While they are a very well-rounded squad, the Cougars really thrive on the defensive end of the floor.

On the season, they are in the top 10 in multiple categories, including AdjD (6th), EFG% (3rd), opponents’ 2-point% (5th) and 3-point defense (3rd), according to Bart Torvik.

Coach Kelvin Sampson’s program is also the only team in the nation to rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Meanwhile, only five other schools are in the top 25 in both categories.

On offense, the Cougars are led by guard Marcus Sasser, who is averaging 17.1 point per game and shooting over 40% from the field and 3-point line in AAC play.

It also helps that Houston has four other players averaging double figures in league games.

East Carolina Pirates

While the overall record may not showcase it, coach Michael Schwartz has overachieved in his debut season after being picked to finish last in the preseason by AAC coaches.

He is also just one win away from matching last season’s victory totals for the conference and overall record.

The Pirates have especially been tough at home, owning a 9-5 mark at the Williams Arena this season. They have also won back-to-back in Greenville, North Carolina, which includes an impressive triumph over Cincinnati.

If it plans to have success in this contest, ECU has to continue to thrive in securing offensive rebounds, where it ranks 32nd in the country.

The Pirates are also in the top 60 in getting to the free-throw line. Meanwhile, Houston is outside the top 225 in sending opponents to the charity stripe.

East Carolina will also need a big performance from RJ Felton, who leads the team in scoring in AAC play at 15.1 points per game. He has done a great job of filling the void of Javon Small’s absence due to injury.

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Houston vs East Carolina Betting Pick

I was able to cash a winning ticket in ECU’s victory over Cincinnati. However, Houston is a much more difficult task.

But you have to get creative to back the Cougars at these prices.

My best bet is to take the visitors in the first half at a spread of -9 or better.

Among the many things it's the best in the country at, Houston comes into this matchup with the best first-half average scoring margin of +12.2. This has shown even more over the last four games, as the Cougars have owned an average lead of 16.8 points at the break.

Meanwhile, the Pirates have struggled at the start of games recently, losing at halftime in six of their last seven by an average of 7.7 points.

I just feel like Houston has a lot more to play for, and with the chance of locking up the regular season title with a victory, I expect the Cougars to come out strong to start this game.

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