(14) Georgia State vs. (3) Houston
Time: FRI, 6:20 PM CT (TBS)
Spread: HOU -12.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Cougars stormed through its regular season with a 31-3 record while going 16-2 in American Conference play. It lost in the conference tournament 57-69 to then-No. 24 Cincinnati, but it had won four straight going into that loss. It will face #14 Georgia State as heavy 12.5-point favorites in opening round action, and NCAA basketball oddsmakers are setting the over/under at 141.5 points. The game tips off Friday at 6:20 PM (CT) on TBS.
The Houston Cougars possess the No. 8 most-stingy defense in the nation, limiting its opponents to just 61.0 points per game while scoring 76.2 itself, good for a win differential of +15.2. The Cougars held two of its final opponents under 60, winning both games over UConn and Memphis. Its defense could be the difference maker in this tournament, and the Cougars are not short on scoring options itself. Houston is led by Corey Davis Jr. who averaged 16.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game while playing a team-high 32.8 minutes per game.
Armoni Brooks starts alongside him in the backcourt and averages 13.6 points and 6.5 rebounds, a team best. Davis shot 38 percent on his threes, while Brooks and all three of Houston’s top-5 scorers shot 35 percent or better. The Cougars attempted 838 threes this season at a 36.4 percent clip, and it also limited its turnovers to just 11.5 per game. Houston shoots 70.4 percent from the line as a team.
The Cougars are hoping Davis continues to be so consistently good. He had just 12 points in the loss to Cincinnati, but in the four games prior had scored 20.2 points per game while shooting 42 percent or better in all four games. The Cougars need him to be clicking because against the Bearcats he shot just 23 percent from the field while also battling foul trouble.
Georgia State went 24-9 this season with a 13-5 record in Sun Belt play. It lost its only game to an AP-ranked opponent (K-State), but the Panthers concluded its season with five straight wins and a conference tournament victory. The Panthers have a 2-3 record in the NCAA tournament, but its defense may keep it from making noise this year. Georgia State allowed 73.2 points per game, and it averaged 77.2 itself. The Panthers gave up 71 points in a 12-point loss to Kansas State.
The Panthers are led by D’Marcus Simonds, who averaged 18.4 points, five rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. It has four others averaging double-figures, including Malik Benlevi who leads the team in rebounding (5.8) and blocked shots (1.2 per). Georgia State shot 38.8 percent from behind the arc as a team while attempting 814 threes this season. It averages 8.1 steals and 4.8 blocks per game while keeping its own turnovers low (11.7 per game). The Panthers are not good closing games at the line where it shoots just 65.9 percent including Simonds who shoots just 66.5 percent from the line (and 28 percent from three).
ATS TRENDS (C/o Covers):