Will the Houston Cougars Sustain Their Stellar Play into March?


Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Cougars guard Galen Robinson Jr. (25) and guard Armoni Brooks (3).

Jan 19, 2019, 06:00 AM EST
  • The 17-1 Houston Cougars have stormed through their opponents this season.
  • With their title odds as low as 125-1 at some books, they present an interesting opportunity for futures bettors.

Not only was Michigan’s Jordan Poole one of last season’s March Madness heroes, but the then-freshman also sunk a dagger into Houston’s tournament potential.

The Cougars were bounced from the Round of 32 via Poole’s last-second 3-pointer and lost their top scorer in Rob Gray at the same moment, but they’ve returned with a vengeful 17-1 start while going 11-6-1 against the spread.

Kelvin Sampson’s crew has seen its national title odds pick up steam in the process, going from 200-1 at the beginning of the season to as high as 66-1 in our consensus sportsbook on The Action Network App. But they also vary on offshore sites, dipping to 125-1.

Does Houston present enough value to invest in its long-term prospects a few weeks into its conference schedule?

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CBS Sports bracketologist Jerry Palm projected the Cougars to slot into a No. 3 seed despite their road loss to Temple on Jan. 9, which came down to Corey Davis Jr.’s offensive foul in the final second.

Palm noted their win over LSU — a borderline top-25 team — and how they failed to deliver a letdown against the likes of Saint Louis, Utah State, Oregon and Oklahoma State.

“They’ve got eight wins in quadrants one and two and no bad losses,” Palm told The Action Network. “Those four American [Athletic Conference] teams (Houston, Cincinnati, Temple and UCF) are all in play [for March Madness]. Whether it’s two, three or four teams from that conference in the tournament, they’re all going to be discussed.

“It’s a stronger league than the A-10, and it’s a stronger league than the Mountain West. It’s the next strongest league once you get past the power-six [conferences].”

Houston would deliver a decent amount of return were it to earn that seed, and there’s sound chance it will.