Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:35 AM EST.
6:00 PM EST. We want to take you back to January 17, when the Cougars were a 7½-point favorite at Tulane and lost outright. We had the Green Wave that night, citing that the Cougars had a massive game on deck at home against Wichita State. That was the Green Waves best win of the season but this time around things are different. Tulane’s win over Houston is very appealing when one considers whether to take 14 points or spot it. To us, the decision is easy. You see, the Green Wave are 4-7 in a conference with a slew of beatable and weak teams and Tulane has already lost to a few of them. They recently lost to last place South Florida among others and that game was at Tulane. Against second last place East Carolina, the Green Wave needed OT to win by a bucket. The Cougars are completely out of Tulane’s class here.
Houston will not overlook the Green Wave this time around after losing to them. It’s one thing to lose to a conference equal or inferior but losing to the Green Wave leaves a bad taste in the Cougs mouths and a response is in order. Incidentally, in that aforementioned big game against Wichita after losing to Tulane, Houston won by 14. Non-conference wins over Arkansas, Providence and Wake Forest have improved the Cougars' tournament profile to the point where Lunardi's projecting them as in. They want to absolutely maintain that profile after being left out of the cold in last year’s main event. Houston is a potential bracket busting team too. Rob Gray is a contender for American Athletic Conference player of the year honors, and the offense he leads has taken on the character of the 6-foot-1 scoring point guard. Houston takes care of the ball and hits its 3s. Defenses preoccupied with Gray find they also have to cope with Corey Davis, Armoni Brooks and Wes VanBeck, all of whom are shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. Most of all, Sampson's offense is helped along by its sheer volume of shot attempts. With a low turnover rate and the American's second-best offensive rebound percentage in league play, Houston just gets more chances to score than its opponents do. The first order of business for the Cougars will be putting together a profile worthy of an at-large bid in case it comes to that. These games are crucial for the Cougs, as they cannot allow a team like Tulane to even think they have a shot. There will be no letting up for the Cougars here.
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HOUSTON -14 -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)