Wichita State vs. Houston Odds & Pick: Betting Value on Wednesday’s Over/Under
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dexter Dennis.
- A Wichita State squad with a solid mix of returning experience and transfers faces a previously 7-0 Houston team on Wednesday night.
- The Cougars recently lost one of the conference's best players, but that may not have as big of an impact on them as it would on other teams.
- BJ Cunningham breaks down the game below and explains why there's value on the under in Wednesday's AAC matchup.
Wichita State vs. Houston Odds
An upset-minded Wichita State squad heads south on Wednesday to battle 11th-ranked Houston.
Wichita State has not played a Division I opponent in over two weeks. However, it has started its AAC season with two road wins over Tulsa and South Florida.
The Shockers came into this season with a lot of adversity, as longtime head coach Gregg Marshall was forced to resign.
However, the Shockers have a lot of talent on their roster with a nice mix of returning experience and transfers, so they will give the Cougars all they can handle on Wednesday.
Houston was starting to look like a Final Four team in the middle of December after starting 7-0. However, since then, everything is seemingly falling apart for Kelvin Sampson’s team.
The Cougars were upset on the road by Tulsa right before the new year and have now lost one of their best players in Caleb Mills to the transfer portal.
Houston's Caleb Mills will transfer, per release. Was the American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year.
Mills: “This decision allows me to play closer to home and is best for me and my family.”
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 6, 2021
However, Houston beat SMU on the road without Mills on Sunday, so playing without him on Wednesday won’t be a complete shock to the system.
When Wichita State has the ball
The key for the Shockers offense to flourish is sticking to the fundamentals, which they’ve done a fantastic job of this season.
The Shockers are top-20 in the country in turnover percentage and block percentage allowed on offense. That allows their “zone” offense to function efficiently, especially now that they have Connecticut transfer Alterique Gilbert running the point.
It’s the backcourt that leads the Wichita State scoring attack, as Tyson Etienne is starting to flourish alongside Gilbert. The sophomore leads the team in scoring at 17 points per game. However, outside of Etienne, the Shockers are really struggling to shoot the ball, as they rank 266th in effective field goal percentage.
The reason Houston is projected to win the AAC is because of its defense. Sampson prides himself on having one of the stingiest defenses in the country, and this year is no different.
Houston is elite in almost every defensive metric and ranks top-15 in defensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage allowed, turnover percentage, block percentage, and steal percentage. In fact, it’s held opponents under 1.00 points per possession in every game this season.
Wichita State is likely going to struggle against one of the best defenses in the country.
When Houston has the ball
The loss of Mills will be felt mostly on the offensive end of the floor. Mills was a walking bucket and was the AAC Preseason Player of the Year. He’s played in only four games this season, dropping in almost 10 points per contest, so the Cougars are accustomed to playing without him.
Houston has actually struggled shooting the ball this season, as it ranks in the bottom half of college basketball in effective field goal percentage, 2-point percentage, and 3-point percentage.
In fact, in their last two games against Tulsa and SMU, the Cougars have shot only 41% from the field and averaged only 1.03 points per possession. Where they excel is on the offensive glass, as they own the fourth-highest offensive rebound rate in the country, per KenPom.
Wichita State is really going to have to box out well on Wednesday because it’s one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country. The Shockers allow offensive boards at a ridiculous 35.8% rate. They also have one of the lowest turnover rates in the AAC, so they are likely going to struggle on the defensive end of the floor despite Houston’s shooting woes.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Houston has looked good without Mills in the lineup this season, so I don’t think that loss will be felt as much as everyone is making it out to be.
As far as this game is concerned, I think this is going to be a lower-scoring game than the current total suggests given the loss of Mills and the fact that both teams have really struggled shooting the ball this season.
I have the total projected at 132.92, so I think there’s some value in under 136 points).
Pick: Under 136 or better.