Houston vs Kentucky Preview & Free Pick [Sweet 16]

Houston (33-3) vs Kentucky (29-6)
When: Friday, March 29th, 2019
Where: Sprint Center,
Kansas City, Missouri
Time: 9:59 ET | TV: TBS
Opening Odds: Kentucky -3/135.5

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The Houston Cougars have already set a school record for wins in a season (33) and are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1983-84 Phi Slama Jama team led by Hakeem Olajuwon. Houston will look to add to their record win total when they take on the Kentucky Wildcats on Friday night for the right to advance to the Elite Eight against either North Carolina or Auburn. The Cougars cruised through the first two rounds with wins over No. 14 Georgia State (84-55) and 11th-seeded Ohio State (74-59), while the Wildcats survived a second round scare from Wofford 62-56 after blasting Abilene Christian 79-44. Kentucky played both of those games without All-SEC First Teamer PJ Washington (14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 41.9 3-point percentage) because of a sprained foot. Washington is still a game time decision for Friday and would likely be on a minutes restriction if he could go. Kentucky’s defense held Wofford to its second-fewest points of the season while career NCAA leader in 3-pointers Fletcher Magee, shot 0-of-12 from beyond the arc. Houston’s defense is one of the best in the country, ranking seventh in points allowed (61.0), first in field goal defense (36.6 percent) and tops at defending the three (27.8 percent). Kentucky is 3-1 all-time versus Houston, but this will be first meeting between the schools in an NCAA Tournament game.

The Cougars are led on offense by senior guard Corey Davis Jr. (17.1 points), who drained 10 3-pointers and scored 47 points in the first two rounds and shoots 87.3 percent from the foul line. Houston ranks 21st in offensive rebounding rate and 54th in turnover rate despite not having a player taller than 6’8″ logging more than 15 minutes per game. Junior guard Armoni Brooks contributes 13.2 points and 115 3-pointers at 38.6 percent to go with a team-high 6.4 rebounds per contest. Sophomore wing DeJon Jarreau was named the American Athletic Conference Sixth Man of the Year and averages 8.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Houston is 12-4 ATS away from home this season.

With Washington out, other players have stepped up including Reid Travis (11.5 points, 7.1 rebounds), who recorded 14 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over Wofford last weekend. Freshman point guard Ashton Hagans (7.7 points, 4.4 assists, 1.7 steals) has been another key contributor with 12 points, five rebounds, and four assists in round two. Washington was averaging 17.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks over his last 16 games. Freshman guard Tyler Herro averages 14.1 points per game and Keldon Johnson chips in 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. Kentucky is 10-7 against the number away from home, but just 4-3 on a neutral floor.

This Houston teams is not afraid of anyone and they’re not just a great defensive team. They can outscore opponents when needed and are led by a great senior guard in Davis. Houston is more than capable of winning this game, so I’ll take the points.

Pick: Houston +3

Cougars are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games.
Cougars are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 neutral site games.
Cougars are 25-10-1 ATS in their last 36 games following a straight up win.
Cougars are 25-11-1 ATS in their last 37 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
Cougars are 20-9-1 ATS in their last 30 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Cougars are 35-16-2 ATS in their last 53 games overall.
Cougars are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 vs. Southeastern.

Wildcats are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
Wildcats are 5-1-2 ATS in their last 8 NCAA Tournament games.
Wildcats are 34-16-4 ATS in their last 54 neutral site games.
Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win.

Under is 6-1-1 in Cougars last 8 neutral site games.
Under is 5-1-1 in Cougars last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Under is 7-2 in Cougars last 9 games following a ATS win.
Under is 3-1-1 in Cougars last 5 overall.
Under is 7-3-1 in Cougars last 11 games following a straight up win.
Under is 9-4 in Cougars last 13 non-conference games.
Over is 9-4 in Cougars last 13 Friday games.

Under is 5-0 in Wildcats last 5 non-conference games.
Under is 4-0 in Wildcats last 4 Friday games.
Under is 7-1 in Wildcats last 8 games following a ATS win.
Under is 9-2 in Wildcats last 11 NCAA Tournament games.
Under is 21-5 in Wildcats last 26 games following a straight up win.
Under is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 neutral site games.
Under is 16-5 in Wildcats last 21 overall.
Under is 8-3 in Wildcats last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.