Texas vs Houston Odds, Picks and Predictions: Texas Two-Step

Houston features the best defense and one of the slowest paces in the country. Texas will have a difficult time solving it, but the double-digit spread in favor of the Cougars is a steep hill to climb. Our betting picks go an alternate route to find value.

Feb 17, 2024 • 10:50 ET • 4 min read
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This article contains predictions for an old game!

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Jamal Shead Houston Cougars NCAA College Basketball
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In a year of complete college basketball uncertainty, the Houston Cougars look like one of the few programs with a real shot to win the NCAA Tournament. That’s bad news for a Texas Longhorns team in need of a win as it travels to the Fertitta Center.

The college basketball odds have the Cougars as 10.5-point home favorites in a game that could quickly turn into a rock fight with Houston’s suffocating defense and Texas’ inconsistent offense. Don’t expect too many points when these two teams take the court this afternoon.

Find out where my best bets lie in our college basketball picks and predictions for Texas vs. Houston on Saturday, February 17.

Texas vs Houston best odds

Texas vs Houston picks and predictions

There’s not a better defense in the country than the Houston Cougars’ and with the Texas Longhorns having solid success on that end of the court, the Under in this Big 12 showdown is in good shape, even with the game total set at just 131.

Kelvin Sampson’s team has flexed its defensive muscles and bullied opponents all season while building enough buzz around the Cougars that fans expect a deep run in March Madness. Ranked No. 3 in the Top 25, Houston’s defensive numbers are borderline obnoxious with how jaw-dropping they are.

The Cougs are holding opponents to just 54.7 points per game, first in the country by nearly four points, and rank first in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. Every metric backs this Houston defense up as the best in college basketball with Evan Miyakawa having it first in team defensive Bayesian performance rating by a wide margin.

Led by Jamal Shead, who ranks third in Miyakawa’s MVP rankings and first in defensive Bayesian performance rating among individual players, the Cougars have given up more than 68 points just twice this season — and one of those games needed overtime to get there. In Big 12 play, Houston is still only allowing 56.9 points per game and has held opponents below 65 points in seven of 11 conference games.

Between its guard trio of Shead, LJ Cryer, and Emanuel Sharp, Houston has harassed opposing offenses with 9.9 steals per game (ninth in the country). And when teams aren’t turning the ball over against Houston, they’re usually missing shots.

Sampson’s squad ranks first in opponent field-goal percentage, allowing just 37.1% from the floor, sixth in opponent two-point percentage (43.3%), and ninth in opponent three-point percentage (28.7%). 

Not only is Houston beating up on opposing offenses, but its own offense is limiting possessions. The Cougars are 347th in adjusted tempo with only 15 teams in the country playing a slower brand of basketball. With that pace, opponents are shooting the fewest field goals in the country against the Cougs at just 48.5 per game.

That’s going to hurt a Texas offense that’s averaging a respectable 76.8 points but hasn’t been known for putting up a ton of shots. The Longhorns are 250th in adjusted tempo and shooting just 58.6 shots per game, 203rd in the country. Their offense is slow and has relied on consistent shooting to score. However, a defense like Houston’s is going to make it far harder for those shots to fall.

For Texas to make this a game, it’s going to have to bring its best on defense, where it ranks 55th in adjusted defensive efficiency and is giving up just 67.8 points per game. The Longhorns have been particularly good inside the arc, with teams shooting 46.4% from two (49th).

The combo of Dylan Disu and Kadin Shedrick around the rim makes it difficult for guards to penetrate and for bigs to find a look. Texas is 29th in the country in blocks per game with 4.9. That complements a perimeter defense that’s allowing teams to shoot only 18.5 threes per game.

It’s not as if the Cougars have a dominant offense that’s going to exploit Texas, either. Houston’s scoring 73.6 points per game and ranks outside of the Top 140 in every shooting category. Sampson’s program is shooting 43.3% from the floor (261st), 48% from two (296th), 34.6% from three (149th), and 68.1% from the free-throw line (305th).

This isn’t the type of game those who love fast-paced offensive duels will enjoy and the key to the Under will be the defenses slowing the opposing lead guards.

My best bet: Under 131 (-110 at bet365)

Texas vs Houston same-game parlay

Under 131.5

Max Abmas Under 15.5 points

Jamal Shead Under 15.5 points

The addition of Max Abmas from Oral Roberts has been a perfect one for the Longhorns. The undersized guard best known for upsetting the Ohio State Buckeyes in the NCAA Tournament a few years ago is Texas’ leading scorer with 17.7 points per game.

He’s capable of pushing this Houston defense, but between Shead and Cryer, Abmas is going to have a tough time getting a clean shot off and has been a more inconsistent shooter as of late. Abmas, who is shooting 44.4% from the floor, is hitting 40.1% over his last eight games, including just 28.1% from three.

Trying to slow Abmas will be Shead, and with his energy spent on the defensive end, he too could have a tough outing in the points department. Shead’s scoring 12.7 per game this season and has had Over 15.5 in just seven of 24 games.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Texas vs Houston spread and Over/Under analysis

The Cougars opened between 10 and 12.5-point home favorites with the line settling in at -10.5 at most books.

While Sampson’s team has been one of the best in the country, it’s struggling against the spread. Houston is just 11-12-1 ATS this season and 4-7 in the Big 12. Likewise, Texas has been struggling ATS at 9-15 overall and 5-6 in conference.

With how brutal the Houston defense is, the game total opened between 130.5 and 132.5 with most books locking in at 131 or 131.5. The Cougars are 15-9 to the Under this season while the Longhorns are 11-13.

Texas vs Houston betting trend to know

Houston has hit the Game Total Under in 21 of their last 35 games (+5.60 Units / 15% ROI). Find more college basketball betting trends for Texas vs. Houston.

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Texas vs Houston game info

Location: Fertitta Center, Houston, TX
Date: Saturday, February 17, 2024
Tip-off: 1:00 p.m. ET
TV: CBS

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