Cincinnati vs Houston Odds, Picks and Predictions: Walker Puts Forth Another Robust Effort

Jarace Walker has been stuffing box scores, and the way Cincinnati will have to gameplan for Houston leaves plenty of room for him to do so again. See why our college basketball picks are all over an all-around romp from the Cougars forward.

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2023 8:46 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Jarace Walker Houston Cougars
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The Houston Cougars welcome the Cincinnati Bearcats for an American Conference clash on Saturday afternoon.

The Cougars need not have many more "odd losses" if they want to fully capitalize on one of the best teams in school history. They are well-positioned to gain a No. 1 seed this March, potentially No. 1 overall. However, they can't take too many losses as the one Temple delivered them on their homecourt nearly a week ago. 

Cincinnati is looking to extend Houston's home troubles, however the Bearcats faced this Houston team a few weeks ago on its home floor and lost by 13 points. 

What's the Best Bet for this matchup? Find out in our college basketball picks and predictions for Cincinnati vs. Houston on Saturday, January 28. 

Cincinnati vs Houston best odds

Cincinnati vs Houston picks and predictions

According to most oddsmakers, there is a unanimous Final Four favorite: Houston. Even after a recent loss, I still think that's a just position. Houston is second in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency — that's an insane balance. Naysayers will point to its schedule, but I'd point to a 4-1 record in Quad 1 games this season and how that's impressive, regardless of schedule. With that said, I'm backing Houston to grab the cover today, but I believe there are better bets for this game. I'm turning to the prop market for mine.

Hello, Jarace Walker. Capable teams are starting to defend Houston in ways that make Walker more of a focal point of the Cougars' offense. The stretch forward can do a little of everything. He makes threes, rebound, dish assists, etc. It's the perfect player you'd want to back in a PRA prop, and that's exactly what we're going to do. 

From a points perspective, I like this play because of what we saw in the last matchup. 

Cincinnati took its best two defenders in David DeJulius and Landers Nolley, and focused on limiting spot-up opportunities with tight coverage. This worked, at least in some ways. Jamal Shead scored just five points but more critical to the Bearcats' game plan, he made just one three. Houston is impossible to beat when he and Marcus Sasser get going from beyond the arc, so Cincy will want to replicate that. 

However, in doing so, you oppose the vulnerabilities of the individual spot-up defense of other players. For that game, Viktor Lakhin allowed a 41% eFG to spot-up shooters as the primary defender. It aided Walker in his 21 points, and I wouldn't be shocked to see it replicated again. I don't think the Bearcats can gameplan much differently here. He should put up a significant number if he's making the open shots. 

Of course, you need to get the big point production to get a significant effort on the backboard. A cornerstone of Houston basketball is what they do on the offensive glass in creating second-chance points.

It's nearly 8% of its offense, and per usual, near the top of the country in offensive rebounding percentage. Walker is a massive part of that. He's getting second-chance points on nearly 20% of the Cougars' offensive rebounds this season and is averaging 8.3 rebounds over his last three games. He only collected five rebounds the last time these two met, but a lot of that was due to him being pulled away from the rim, stretching the defense, and making shots.

So, it's a positive for us either way. If he's pulled away from the rim in this matchup, there's a good chance he's scoring enough to put this prop Over. If not, he's well-positioned to grab boards against a team that has been slightly below average in rebounding this season.

Walker has really emerged for Houston over the last few weeks. The freshman has gone Over this total in five of his previous six games and has often done it relatively easily. So, it continues today as Cincy likely has a game plan that leaves him in advantageous spots. 

My best bet: Jarace Walker Over 18.5 pts+reb+ast (-115 at DraftKings)

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Cincinnati vs Houston spread analysis

Even if just physiological, there is a huge benefit to getting this Houston team a second time.

Obviously, it's valuable to have multiple looks at any opponent, but given the way the Cougars defend, feeling that pressure and being able to recall that is huge. It's one of those things that's easy to grasp when you've played basketball, but more challenging to define. The Bearcats will benefit from that, but it isn't enough. 

Even though Houston wiped the taste of a loss out of its mouth with a win against Central Florida, it still had a loss the last time it played on its home court. Its veterans will be looking to remedy that quickly. 

You can look at the analysis of this game and how Cincy can't exploit the one defensive weak spot for Houston in decisive cutting actions. You can look at the analytics or my projections that have the Cougars by 17 points. However, this spot seems as strong of a reason to back Houston as anything else. 

The Cougars aren't losing twice in a row at home, and it's doubtful a game will be close against a team it is simply more talented than. 

Grab Houston to cover or nothing. 

Cincinnati vs Houston Over/Under analysis

I have a slight lean to Over here, but it's not enough to be actionable. 

When looking at an Over for games involving the Cougars, it's always a matter of how teams will score against Houston. The Bearcats put up 59 in the first meeting between these two, and while that's likely enough here to sneak out and Over, there's no guarantee of it happening again. They cut all your ball screen offense off with terrific defenders in Jamal Shead, Tramon Mark, and Emanuel Sharp. 

That's a big deal for a Bearcat that gets about 15% of its offense from pick-and-rolls. So, I don't feel comfortable grabbing it pregame. If we see a total below 125, I'll have to jump; otherwise, it's a no-play for me. 

Cincinnati vs Houston betting trend to know

Jarace Walker has gone over 18.5 points + rebounds + assists in five of the last six games. Find more college basketball betting trends for Cincinnati vs. Houston.

Cincinnati vs Houston game info

Location: Fertitta Center, Houston, TX
Date: Saturday, January 28, 2023
Tip-off: 2:15 p.m. ET

Cincinnati vs Houston key injuries

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