Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
4:00 PM EST. The Cougars of Houston were one of those teams last season that believed they got snubbed by the selection committee on Selection Sunday and they probably did. Intent on not getting snubbed again, this talented squad is assuredly not going to get snubbed this year after a massive win over another quality opponent on Thursday. Houston is coming off an emotional and celebratory victory over #5 Cincinnati. That victory came two weeks after the Cougars defeated then #7 Wichita State. If there was any doubt after the Cougars defeated the Shockers, there is no doubt now that this 20-5 squad with multiple quality victories is going to the main event in late March. A win or loss here against the Owls (Houston already defeated Temple earlier in the year) will not help or hinder the Cougars chances. They’re in and after beating the Bearcats and celebrating that milestone victory with the fans that stormed the court afterward, this road game in Temple becomes nothing more than a glorified practice for the Cougs.
The Temple Owls are just 7-7 in conference and sit in 7th place out of 12 teams in the American Conference standings. Overall, the Owls are just 15-11 but this might be the best 15-11 team in the country that is not even close to getting the respect they deserve. The Temple Owls are also on the bubble, which is unusual for a team with such a pedestrian record but they are absolutely one of the best 68 teams in the country and probably in the top 40 too. Hell, they even have a chance to win the conference tournament and get an automatic bid because that’s how good they can be. In any event, the Owls have big games left that could elevate them into getting an invite and this is the most important one of them all.
The Owls have a 14-point win over Auburn, a team that was recently a 10-point fav over Kentucky and won by 10 to run its record to 23-3 at the time. The Owls also have non-conference victories over Clemson, Wisconsin, South Carolina and St. Joe’s. The Owls also faced and lost to Villanova and Georgia in their non-conference schedule but it all adds up to the Owls playing the 10th toughest out-of-conference schedule in the country out of 351 teams. In conference, the Owls lost by two points to Cincinnati and by three points to these same Cougars back in Houston. That’s a one possession loss to the top two teams in this conference that are a combined 43-8. The Owls also have a two-point win over #16 Wichita State and a seven-point loss to Wichita State back in Kansas. This is an extremely battle tested team that has passed those tests with flying colors. The Owls absolutely deserve to be in the field of 68 and we trust that this is the make or break game that will decide their fate. A loss here and the Owls will be left out but a win here and the committee MUST consider them. The Owls are good enough to win against a highly motivated Cougars team but we highly doubt that’s the Houston team that will show up today, as the Cougars already have their ticket punched to the Big Dance.
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