College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Wichita State vs. Houston (Jan. 8)

College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Wichita State vs. Houston (Jan. 8) article feature image
Credit:

David Becker/Getty Images. Pictured: Kelvin Sampson.

  • The Wichita State Shockers and Houston Cougars meet for an important AAC conference matchup at noon ET on Saturday, Jan. 8.
  • The point spread opened at Houston -12.5, where it still remains just hours before tipoff, but there's been moderate action on the game total.
  • Saturday's Wichita State-Houston over/under has been bet down from 134 to around 133 across the betting market, but should you tail that line movement?

Wichita State vs. Houston Odds

Saturday, Jan. 8
12 p.m. ET
CBS
Wichita State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+12.5
-110
133.5
-105o / -115u
+580
Houston Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-12.5
-110
133.5
-105o / -115u
-850
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

AAC play is in full swing, and no conference is in a bigger flux than this one.

The Houston Cougars are likely still the favorite in the conference, but they’re marred with injuries for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Memphis is a dumpster fire. Plus, SMU and Cincinnati have been inconsistent.

Sitting quietly at 9-4 and 0-1 in conference play is Wichita State. The Shockers dropped their conference opener to Memphis, but their defense is one of the best in the league.

Could the Shockers prove they’re a dark horse on Saturday afternoon, or will Kelvin Sampson’s squad regroup and crush an inferior opponent?


Wichita State Shockers

As mentioned, the Shockers are an underrated defensive squad.

Wichita State is 37th in defensive efficiency and rank in the top 50 in defensive eFG% (45.7%). All in all, it’s allowing just .765 points per possession in the half-court, good for 42nd nationally.

The Shockers are just balanced. The perimeter defense is one of the best at forcing turnovers (34th in defensive turnover rate) and defending the pick-and-roll (33rd in pick-and-roll PPP allowed).

Meanwhile, the big men block a lot of shots (23rd in block rate) and defend the interior effectively (22nd in post-up points per possession allowed).

Tyson Etienne is the leader of the squad. Not only is he the highest-usage offensive player (24.3 possession percentage, 28.7 shot percentage) and top scorer (14.9 points per game), he’s one of the best defenders as well (85th percentile in half-court points per possession allowed).

Etienne is also a legitimate go-to guy in the clutch.

My goodness, Tyson Etienne.pic.twitter.com/ZFtJTRy11x

— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) November 10, 2021

Given Wichita’s non-conference resume (1-4 in Q1-Q3 opportunities) and the context of the AAC, it’s hard to see the Shockers making the tournament this season.

They would need to storm through the AAC while fixing an offense that’s 280th in eFG%.


Houston Cougars

If you’re unaware of recent college basketball news, guards Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark recently suffered season-ending injuries. Sasser was the clubhouse leader for AAC Player of the Year, while Mark was averaging double-digits scoring himself.

So, without two of their top players, who are the Cougars?

Houston is likely a team that will fall back on its coaching and defense. It’s impossible to describe what a coach like Sampson does for his locker room, but it’s easy to describe what the Cougars do defensively on the court.

Houston is arguably the most active and imposing defense in college basketball. The Cougars play aggressive man-to-man that pressures the ball, overpowers the paint on drives/post-ups and challenges every perimeter shot.

But the system can’t work without the players. The Cougars are so effective on rotations and switches while playing with military-like discipline. As such, the system works.

The Cougars are 17th in defensive eFG% and 15th in defensive turnover rate. They’re allowing just 57 points per game — good for eighth nationally — and while Houston plays super slow, the team allows just .725 PPP in the half-court.

We still don’t know how Houston is going to compensate offensively. But Sampson and his defense provide such a high floor that the Cougars are likely still the AAC favorite.

I do know that Houston will continue to shoot a lot of 3-pointers and rebound aggressively on the offensive end.


Wichita State vs. Houston Betting Pick

The under has hit in four straight between these two conference rivals. I’ll back that trend again.

The handicap is obvious. Houston will continue to struggle to find an offensive identity post-Sasser, while Wichita State is a bad offensive team anyway. Meanwhile, both defenses are elite, and the Shockers D might be undervalued.

However, perhaps that cap is too obvious. Let’s dig a bit deeper.

The crack in Houston’s armor (albeit a small crack) is 3-point defense. Houston allows one of the highest opponent 3-point rates nationally (45.9% 3PA/FGA) and is outside the top-50 in 3-point defense.

But Wichita State will not exploit that. The team shoots a lot of 3s, but the Shockers are sub-275 in 3-point shooting and ShotQuality’s metrics actually have the Shockers negatively regressing.

This one will be a rock fight.

Pick: Under 131 or better

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