College Basketball Odds, Picks, Prediction for Houston vs Temple (Sunday, Feb. 5)
Pictured: Damian Dunn #1 of the Temple Owls. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Houston vs Temple Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Temple shocked the college basketball world two weeks ago with its stunning road upset win against then-No. 1 Houston. The Owls have largely underachieved preseason expectations that suggested they had the talent to be an NCAA Tournament team, but they locked up defensively in that 56-55 win.
The Cougars will be out for revenge Sunday as they visit North Philadelphia. The market has adjusted them downward a bit after they were 20-point home favorites, but Houston remains a big favorite for the second meeting.
Houston may have a shiny 21-2 record and only one loss in conference, but the Cougars haven’t been playing their best basketball in the past month. They’ve covered just two of their past six games, a sign that they’re overvalued in the market. In fact, one of those covers came via a late flagrant foul, otherwise the Cougars would be 1-5 ATS.
Despite the revenge angle, the Cougars remain overvalued in Temple’s biggest home spot all season. The Owls have the athleticism and defensive solidity to make it difficult for Houston to score in the half court.
There wasn’t all that much flukey about the Owls win in Houston if you check some of the underlying box score numbers from the game. The Cougars only won the ShotQuality by three points and also shot a higher percentage from beyond the arc. Free throws ultimately doomed them — 11-of-21 won’t win many close games — but Temple’s interior defense showed why this is a favorable matchup for the Owls.
The Owls held Houston to 0.89 PPP, which is the second-lowest mark Houston’s offense has posted this year. Temple’s defense at the rim ranks 14th in the country in expected PPP against, per ShotQuality. The further teams keep Houston’s offense from the rim, the more they start to see its cracks from the perimeter.
The offense was shooting an unsustainable 40% from beyond the arc in conference play prior to the past four games. The perimeter offense hasn’t made as many shots in the past few weeks and the expected shot numbers suggest there’s still more room to fall. Houston is 264th nationally in open-3 rate and is shooting 3% above its expected numbers.
The Owls’ defense struggled throughout parts of non-conference play, but they’ve always had the length and individual abilities to be a really physical and effective defense. Since league play has begun, the Owls actually have the best defensive metrics in the AAC, per KenPom.
Opponents are shooting just 44% against Temple from 2-point range and — most importantly for this matchup — the Owls have hit the defensive glass really well. Temple boasts the third-best defensive rebounding numbers in the league. The season-long numbers aren’t particularly good, but the Owls held Houston 8% below its season average in offensive rebounding rate in the previous meeting.
Houston’s defense is very difficult to beat and quite well connected as a group, but the Owls have the individual isolation scoring ability to get baskets when required. The Owls struggle with turnovers and efficiency on offense at times, but also have two scorers — Damian Dunn and Khalif Battle — who are really effectively off the dribble and can create their own shot.
Because it’s so difficult to run good offense against the Cougars, having two late-shot-clock scorers is a major key to staying in this game. Dunn scored 16 in the first meeting and, despite his inconsistency, Battle is capable of scoring in bunches.
Houston vs Temple Betting Pick
If you just look at the season long numbers, then you arrive at an 11-12 point spread being the correct number. Houston was a dominant non-conference team and Temple took some time to find its best rotation and improve its defense. Head coach Aaron McKie has tinkered with starting lineups and minutes and has overcome Jamille Reynolds’ absence. Now, with Reynolds back in the lineup, Temple has another key interior rebounding piece.
But the data in 2023 alone paints a very different picture of these teams. Since January began, the Owls are 57th in adjusted efficiency. The market isn’t capturing Temple’s defensive improvement enough, and it’s not pricing in the Cougars impending shooting regression.
Houston is still elite, and ranks seventh since conference play began, but the Cougars are also coasting a bit through conference play and aren’t playing their best basketball. Temple at +10 or better at home in an all-in spot is worth a play.
Pick: Temple +10 or Better
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