The Houston Cougars square off against the East Carolina Pirates on Wednesday night, so here’s the best betting pick for this American Athletic Conference showdown at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina, along with the latest odds on DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Cougars opened as massive 16.5-point favorites, but that’s not a surprise considering their current form. Houston has won eight straight games, torturing its rivals around the conference, so the Pirates will have an impossible mission to complete Wednesday on the home court.
Houston climbed one spot to No. 5 in the AP Top 25 Poll
The Houston Cougars (15-1; 10-1 Conf.) are coming off a 70-48 thrashing off the SMU Mustangs this past Saturday. It was their sixth consecutive victory by 17 or more points, as the Cougars completely shut down the Mustangs’ offense, holding them to 31.9% shooting from the field and 14.3% from beyond the arc.
The Cougars made just 33.9% of their field goals and 32.0% of their 3-pointers, but they’ve been leaning on a stout defense all season long. Houston surrenders only 86.0 points per 100 possessions which are the fewest in the nation. The Cougars rank first in opponent field goal percentage (36.2%) and second in opponent 3-point percentage (24.8%).
Houston is No. 4 in the latest NCAA NET Rankings. The Cougars score 113.9 points per 100 possessions (19th), and junior guard Quentin Grimes lead the way with 16.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest. Sophomore G Marcus Sasser tallies 15.6 points per game, while senior F Justin Gorham adds 7.8 points and 10.2 boards a night.
East Carolina looks helpless to stop its slide
The East Carolina Pirates (7-6; 1-6 Conf.) are sitting bottom of the American Athletic Conference following a 77-68 home loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. It was their fifth consecutive defeat, as the Pirates continue to struggle offensively. The game was tied at 65-65 with 3:19 left on the clock, and the Pirates were terrible down the stretch.
East Carolina is No. 169 in the NCAA NET Rankings and No. 150 in the KenPom rankings. The Pirates score only 99.7 points per 100 possessions (212th in the country) on 42.2% shooting from the field (262nd) and 31.9% from beyond the 3-point line (243rd).
Junior forward Jayden Gardner leads the way for the Pirates with 17.1 points and 8.1 rebounds a night, while sophomore F Brandon Suggs adds 9.5 points and 4.5 boards per game. East Carolina is not a good defensive team either and allows 98.3 points per 100 possessions (105th) on 42.0% shooting from the field (124th).
- 6-0 ATS in the last six games overall
- 5-0 ATS in the last five outings as double-digit favorites
- 4-1 ATS in the last five road contests
- 0-5 ATS in the last five games overall
- 1-5 ATS in the last six home contests
- 2-5 ATS in the last seven games against Houston
The Cougars are looking unstoppable at the moment, so I’m backing them to extend their winning streak and cover a huge spread. As I’ve mentioned above, the Cougars have won six straight contests by 17 or more points including road victories at Temple and Tulane.
The Pirates are just terrible offensively, so I don’t see how they think to damage the best defensive team in the country. Hopefully, the Cougars won’t underestimate the Pirates.
Pick: Take Houston -16.5 at -110
This should be a proper low-scoring clash, considering the Cougars’ firm defense and the Pirates’ awful offense. Furthermore, neither side prefers to play at a fast pace, while the Cougars average only 65.6 possessions per 40 minutes (314th).
Although the over has hit in three of the last four encounters between Houston and East Carolina, the under is 13-7 in the Cougars’ last 20 outings, and it is 6-3 in the Pirates’ previous nine showings.
Pick: Go under 130.5 points at -110