The Memphis Tigers and Houston Cougars face off in a rematch after just meeting last Sunday to close out the regular season. The stakes are much higher this time around, as Memphis and Houston will square off in the semifinals of the AAC Championship this evening. The game last weekend didn’t mean much, at least for Houston, who already were going into the AAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed without much incentive to go all out.
Houston might be the No. 2 seed in the AAC, behind Wichita State, but ask any contender and I’m sure they’d rather play the Shockers in the NCAA Tournament than the Cougars. Houston lost just three games during the regular season, and wrapped up the slate with a record of 21-3. With a win over Tulane yesterday, 77-52, Houston goes into Saturday with a cumulative record of 22-3.
The most recent loss for the Cougars was against the Shockers in an upset on February 18 on the road. Houston weren’t that focused on that road, and paid for it with a 68-63 loss. However, since that mishap in Wichita, Houston has gone five in a row without a loss. If they want to go to the AAC Championship and make it a six-game winning streak, a win is required against Memphis on Saturday.
While Houston was blowing out Tulane on Saturday, Memphis had to work hard for a 70-62 win over the Central Florida Knights. Memphis had a 4-point lead at halftime and pulled away to win by 8 points when Central Florida had to get desperate and foul. They are now winners in seven of their last eight games, with their only loss that game last weekend against the Cougars. Most importantly, Memphis has covered five straight games.
Having said that, Houston was a covering machine and went 17-7 ATS through 24 games this season. If you backed Houston in every game they’ve played this season and did nothing else, and you’d be at a winning clip of 70.8%. Any sports bettor would be thrilled to finish off a season going 71% in a sport. They were in prime form yesterday, but have a Memphis team on deck that pushed them to the max last weekend. Head below for our free Memphis vs. Houston pick on March 13, 2021.
Memphis Tigers vs. Houston Cougars AAC Tournament Betting Odds:
Memphis vs. Houston Prediction:
It might sound absurd to say this because Memphis nearly beat Houston last week, but I don’t believe that the Tigers can go into this game with the same perspective. Their effort is likely going to have to be even better to stay around with a chance to win in the final minutes. How much motivation was there for Houston on Sunday? I suspect that there was little incentive for Houston to play well in that game.
Mentally they were already looking towards tournament season. Even though I don’t believe Houston brought their best game, they still managed to beat Memphis, 67-64. The public might look at that game and put too much weight into what happened last week. Under different circumstances on Saturday, expect the Cougars to play with a little more energy. When their defense is locked in, it can be the best defensive unit on the floor in college basketball.
Houston has conceded an average of just 57.6 points per game for second in the NCAA. They lead the nation in limiting teams to 37% shooting from the field. Opponents have been unable to find success from the outside against the Cougars, as they’re netting a 27.4% three-point percentage from deep. Memphis can do the same, but they don’t have as strong of an offense to back up their defense like Houston does.
The Cougars are 53rd in the NCAA with an average of 77.2 points scored per game. That’s compared to 72.1 points per game for the Tigers, so certainly still respectable. Houston has been in fine form with 82.6 points and 55.4 points conceded per game through their previous five contests. If they were more interested in winning the regular season finale, I’m confident that Houston could have pulled away for something more than a 3-point win.
In a game like this, though, where a cover could come down to free-throw shooting, Memphis is at a serious disadvantage. The Tigers are shooting just 61.8% from the charity stripe for 341st in the NCAA. That little fact might be overlooked by some handicappers, but it could be frustrating if you need the points and Memphis is clanging the freebies down the stretch. Houston is 89th in the NCAA with a 73.3% from the line. They may not have covered last week, but in a different situation on Saturday in the AAC Tournament, I’m backing Houston in a game I see a final score of 75-65.