College Basketball Odds & Picks for Memphis vs. Houston: Expect Tigers to Keep it Close
Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images. Pictured: Memphis bench
- Memphis and Houston square off in a critical AAC showdown.
- The Cougars are coming off of their first loss in AAC play while the Tigers have won four straight.
- Kyle Remillard previews the game and offers up his best bet.
Memphis vs. Houston Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers are projected to be one of the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament, according to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology. A win on the road over Houston — a projected 4-seed — might be what the Tigers need to earn their golden ticket.
That will be no easy feat, as Houston is 20-3 and has outscored its opponents by an average of 20 points per game. What makes the Cougars’ resume more impressive is the success they’ve had without All-American guard Marcus Sasser and All-Conference wing Tramon Mark.
Houston had its 12-game winning streak snapped last time out in a 2-point road loss to SMU.
Memphis has won four straight games for the first time since starting the season 5-0. Its last three victories have all been revenge games over programs that beat Memphis earlier in the season.
Houston crushed Memphis’ hopes of making it to the NCAA Tournament last season, with a crazy half-court buzzer-beater.
Crazy ricochet leads to game-tying 3? ✅
50-foot bounce pass? ✅
An audible "THAT'S GAME" right before a buzzer-beater? ✅
Memphis vs. Houston was vintage March. pic.twitter.com/iEy83xLBl5
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 7, 2021
This is the revenge game that Hardaway really cares about.
The biggest difference with the Memphis program the last four games is the Tigers are finally healthy.
The last two games were the first time that Jalen Duren, DeAndre Williams and Landers Nolley II were all available since the start of the new year. Specifically, when Duran and Williams are on the floor together, this program is notches better.
Highly-touted freshman guard Emoni Bates has missed the last two games. But Bates hasn’t lived up to the hype to this point in the season.
The 6-foot-9 freshman is shooting just 39% from the field while averaging 10 points per game. He’s coughed the ball up 42 times in his 16 games, leading the team in turnovers.
Whether his absence is a positive or negative for the program remains to be seen.
During the last four games, Hardaway’s squad has averaged 81 points while shooting 49% from the floor. The Tigers have hit 31-of-85 from downtown — good for 36% during that span.
Defensively, the Tigers have put the clamps on opponents as of late. The group has held its last three opponents to 30% from the field and 27% shooting from beyond the arc.
Continuing that will be no easy feat against a dominant Houston program.
Houston is the cream of the crop in the American Athletic Conference. Four of the top-5 players on the All-KenPom team come from the Houston roster.
The job that Kelvin Sampson has done this season can’t be understated, and he deserves to be in the conversation for Coach of the Year. Even after losing its star player in Sasser, the group hasn’t missed a beat.
The Cougars are relentless defensively, with their tenacious defense holding 21 of their 23 opponents to less than 70 points in regulation this season.
The defense ranks fourth in the nation, holding opponents to 43% shooting from the field. They create turnovers at a top-25 rate, which could be pivotal when matching up against a Memphis program that has coughed the ball up all season.
Offensively, Houston dominates inside the perimeter, where it hits 55% of its attempts.
The Cougars are relentless on the offensive glass, where they extend the possession on 38% of their misses. That may not be an easy game plan in this matchup, as Memphis has a massive front line.
Memphis vs. Houston Betting Pick
Memphis was in absolute disarray just three weeks ago, losing to UCF, East Carolina and SMU. But the program has been playing with a different sense of urgency recently. That’s probably because the Tigers know if they want to make it to the Big Dance, they need to be near perfect down the stretch.
That starts with getting revenge against the program that ended Hardaway’s season last year. Memphis lost on a buzzer beater to Houston to end the regular season, and again by three points in the AAC Tournament.
Now, this is a different Memphis roster that has freshman who weren’t there for those losses last year. But the returning players and Hardaway will surely be preaching the importance of this matchup.
The key for Memphis will be taking care of the basketball. Turnovers have doomed the Tigers all season, and Houston ranks in the top 25 in defensive turnover rate.
This game has too much meaning for the Memphis Tigers, and we should see their best effort, as they are at full strength.
I’m taking the double-digit points with the Tigers, who will be able to keep this one within grasp.
Pick: Memphis +10 (Play to +8)
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