There’s little dividing the Houston Cougars (29-2) and the Kentucky Wildcats (26-5) according to oddsmakers. The spread for Sunday’s Sweet 16 battle (9:59 pm at Sprint Center) opened at Wildcats -3 with a total of 136 O/U.
The big question leading up to this game is the health of UK’s All-American forward PJ Washington, who’s dealing with a foot fracture. Depending on the news leading up to the game, this line is going to swing in one direction or the other.
Houston Cougars Preview
The #3 Cougars have been impressive on offense and defense this year; they enter the game scoring 76 PPG, which ranks number 84 in America, while sitting 21st in offensive rating. They are shooting 42-percent from the floor and 36-percent from the three-point line (86th).
Not to be outdone, Houston is 7th in defensive rating and gives up a paltry 62 points per game, 10th overall. They have held teams to 37-percent shooting from the field and sit 51st in blocks and 135th in steals.
Offensively, they are paced by guard Corey Davis Jr., who’s scoring a team-best 17 points per game. On the boards, Armoni Brooks leads the way with 7 rebounds per contest.
As a group, the Cougars are tremendous on the boards, averaging 37 rebounds per night, 15th in Division I.
In its first two tournament games, Houston has played every bit as good as it did in the regular season. After an 84-55 demolition of #14 Georgia State, they powered by #11 Ohio State 74-59.
As has been the case most of the season, Davis Jr. came up big in the W, leading the way with 21 points, just two days after dropping 26 on the Panthers.
Kentucky Wildcats Preview
The Cougars will be facing a Kentucky group that is just as strong and balanced as they are, however, which should make for a fascinating battle at both ends of the floor.
Kentucky is ranked 25th in offensive rating, 11th in offensive efficiency, and averages 77 PPG (79th in the country).
On defense, meanwhile, they are ranked 38th in defensive rating, 9th in defensive efficiency, and surrender just 65 points per game.
Unfortunately, if Washington is unable to play, it’s going to be a huge blow. He has been their go-to scorer all year, averaging 15 PPG, and he’s also the team’s leader on the glass, pulling in 8 rebounds per game.
Washington’s work on the glass has helped Kentucky dominate that aspect of the game most nights. As a team, they are 24th on the boards, with 36 rebounds per game.
They have survived without him up to this point, but not without drama.
The Wildcats are coming off a 62-56 win over #7 Wofford, and only managed to squeeze out the win because the Terriers’ sharpshooter, Fletcher Magee, went an abhorrent 0/12 from three.
Reid Travis led the Wildcats in scoring in round two, dropping 14 points in the victory.
For betting purposes, Kentucky has rewarded its backers, going 19-16-0 ATS. But don’t add them to your bet slip too quickly because Houston has been even better at 23-12-1 ATS.
Find the most recent moneyline, the history of how the line has moved, and our proprietary projection system’s score prediction for Houston vs Kentucky above. As always, best of luck betting.