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Sunday College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Houston vs. Temple Betting Preview

Sunday College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions:  Houston vs. Temple Betting Preview article feature image
Credit:

David Becker/Getty Images. Pictured: Kelvin Sampson.

  • Decimated by by injuries, Houston and Temple will meet in Philadelphia on Sunday for an ACC duel.
  • The Cougars are the second AAC favorite even without Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark.
  • Kyle Remillard breaks down the matchup below and offers up his top selection.

Houston vs. Temple Odds

Sunday, Jan. 2
5 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Houston Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-12
-110
129
-110o / -110u
-800
Temple Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+12
-110
129
-110o / -110u
+550
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Houston and Temple hope to meet Sunday afternoon after having their schedules derailed by an unexpected stoppage due to COVID outbreaks.

Houston will play in its first game since a 80-47 victory over Texas State on December 22. The program had its conference opener canceled against Cincinnati due to health and safety protocols. In addition to the COVID issues, the Cougars’ roster has been decimated by injuries recently.

Houston finds itself at 11-2 on the season, with both losses coming by two points to Wisconsin and Alabama. In its 11 victories, the group has outscored its opponents by an average score of 81-52.

Temple currently sits at +5500 odds to win the American Athletic Conference. The Owls will get a shot at the conference favorites. After starting the season 1-3, Temple has been playing better basketball, winning six of its last eight games. Its game against Villanova on December 29 was canceled due to COVID.

Both sides are missing prominent offensive weapons, which begs the question of where the offense will come from in this matchup.


Houston Cougars

Houston is the cream of the crop in the American Athletic Conference and currently ranks third in KenPom’s rankings. The group owns a top-seven offensive and defensive efficiency ranking and is the current favorite to win the conference.

But it’s been a tough few weeks for a program that has been decimated by injuries.

Marcus Sasser will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury. Sasser is the leading scorer for the Cougars, averaging 18 points per game.

Kyler Williams sprained his ankle at the end of the Texas State game and will miss this matchup. He’s the second leading scorer, putting up a dozen points per game.

The two join sophomore guard Tramon Mark, who’s sidelined for the season with a shoulder injury.

The group will rely on its depth and defense to overcome Temple. Regardless of who is on the floor for the Cougars, you can count on a high-intensity defensive effort thanks to head coach Kelvin Sampson.

Houston has the fourth-best scoring defense in the country, holding opponents to 56 points per game. The defense forces turnovers at a 25% clip, which ranks 11th best in the nation.

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Temple Owls

COVID destroyed Temple’s season last year after the group only played three games before January 11. Another pause before the AAC Tournament left it finishing at 5-11 on the season.

This year, the Owls have already exceeded their win total from last season, starting 7-5.

Temple has struggled scoring the basketball, though, averaging 67 points per contest, which ranks 227th nationally. The group has hit only 28% of its 3-point attempts (325th) and 47% of its 2-point attempts (263rd) on the season.

Houston’s ferocious defense ranks 32nd in defending both of those shot attempts, and that should make for a long night offensively for the Owls.

Khalif Battle opened the season averaging 21 points through the team’s first seven games. But he fractured a bone in his foot, which has him missing the remainder of the season.

The Owls have only one other player who is averaging double digits this season. That player is Damian Dunn, who’s putting up 13.6 points per game.

The Owls have played at a snail’s pace that ranks 261st in the nation in tempo. They’ve been strong at defending inside the arc, holding opponents to 44% shooting on 2-point attempts. More than 60% of Houston’s shot attempts — and 50% of their points — have come from 2-point shot attempts.


Houston vs. Temple Betting Pick

In its most recent losses, Temple made 31% of its 64 field goal attempts against Saint Joseph’s and just 27% of its 56 attempts against UCF. The offense has missed the production of Battle, who is out for the season.

Now, the Owls match up against one of the most complete defenses in the nation. Houston holds its opponents to less than 44% shooting from the field, which is top 20 in the country. On top of that, it forces turnovers on 26% of its opponents’ possessions, which is 11th in the country.

Temple is going to struggle to find offense, but so will Houston. For the first time, the Cougars will be without their top two scorers this season in Sasser and Williams, who combine to average 30 points per game.

The Owls’ defense forces opponents to work offensively before getting a shot attempt, as Temple ranks 349th in average defensive possession length.

Neither team has played since December 22, and there will be some rust from both sides. It will be a sloppy opening matchup for Houston, which will be trying to find its new offensive identity. That presents value on the under.

Pick: Under 129 | Play down to 127

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