The Memphis Tigers and Houston Cougars wrap up AAC competition with an early Sunday afternoon matchup at the Hofheinz Pavilion. Houston enters the final game of the regular season with a record of 20-3. They are on a three-game winning streak, and have won five of their previous six outings. The No. 9 team in the country is certainly one to watch. Houston very well could reach the Sweet Sixteen and knock on the door of the Elite Eight. I certainly would rule out a Final Four appearance as well.
That’s going to require pristine basketball from Houston, but I wouldn’t rule it out from the Cougars. With their defense, it’s enough to give any team in the country a headache. And usually with teams like Houston that emphasize defensive pressure, they give up a lot on the offensive side. However, not the Cougars, as they’re scoring at a healthy clip offensively. Note that plenty of tournaments are underway for mid-major conferences, though we’re still in regular season mode on Sunday in the AAC.
The regular season will be complete for every conference after Sunday. It will be total conference tournament mode this week across the country. Selection Sunday is scheduled for next Sunday. The only thing that could postpone that is if there is a Covid issue with a conference tournament and a game has to be pushed back. Postponed in the sense that we would have to wait for the full field, but fingers crossed that there are no issues in March that derails any games. That was a problem throughout the regular season for several teams.
Memphis has a decent enough shot at winning the AAC Tournament. I would put Wichita State, Houston, and Memphis in winnable territory in the AAC. Honorable mention to the SMU Mustangs who might be able to surprise the top contenders. The Cougars are the most complete team in the conference, and you have to start with them when talking about the AAC. They own an overall record of 20-3 and 13-3 in the conference. Memphis counters with a healthy record of 15-6 and 11-3 in the conference, too. Head below for our free Memphis vs. Houston pick on March 7, 2021.
Memphis Tigers vs. Houston Cougars NCAA Betting Odds:
Memphis vs. Houston Prediction:
The Houston Cougars get after teams defensively and don’t stop applying pressure. They are going to be awfully frustrating to deal in the NCAA Tournament. If opponents don’t come prepared to match the defensive intensity of Houston, they are going to beat up on weaker teams, and likely pull off an upset or two. Houston ranks second in the NCAA with an incredibly impressive 57.3 points allowed per game.
They are also holding teams to only 36.6% from the field. That is good for the lead in the NCAA. Maybe if Houston played in a better conference it wouldn’t look as impressive. However, in their most difficult game, they handled No. 18 Texas Tech easily by a score of 64-53 at home. It would be interesting to see what they could do against an offense like Gonzaga. Their best work has been done at home on defense this season, with 54.3 points conceded per contest.
This has been a powerhouse season for Houston at home. They are a perfect 14-0 on campus at the University of Houston. The most important thing to note with the Cougars is that they aren’t a one-trick pony. Houston can score the ball at an efficient clip as well. They’re 49th in the NCAA with 77.6 points per game, including 82.2 points per game at home. Quentin Grimes can take over a game in a hurry. Grimes has taken his game to the next level this season, and is getting attention from the NBA. He’s averaging 17.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game going into Sunday.
Memphis has a defensive identity as well. They’re based around winning games by playing defense. The Tigers are 16th in the NCAA with 62.1 points against per game. Defensively they’ve been strong on the road as well. What they don’t have is a playmaker like Grimes to dominate games. Memphis is 149th in the NCAA with 72.5 points scored per game. They’re horrible on the charity stripe, and this is going to be their undoing in March.
Memphis is shooting an anemic 62.4% from the line for 338th. Conversely, Houston is shooting 73.4%. Those lost points on the free throw line make a world of difference at the end of games. The line looks a bit trappy here. The public will likely see 9 points on a decent Memphis team and jump. However, Houston has been on another level recently, and especially at home throughout the 2020-21 campaign. Memphis likely isn’t motivated to travel to Texas and play an early game against an aggressive defense like Houston on Sunday. A double-digit win for the Cougars looks more than doable.