The “upset” not-so “upset” pick hiding in plain sight.
Content Producer, GS
Let’s hear it for the nerds (!!). They told us the No. 5 Houston Cougars were under-seeded, and they were right! Off a win against No. 1 Arizona to make the Elite Eight, they’re FOR REAL!
Sometimes I feel like we generalize advanced stats without explaining, so will you guys indulge me on ONE BIG NUMBER here that the stats nerds love?
Ok, the number is 43.5% 🤓
That represents the third-lowest effective field goal percentage (nerd-speak for a % that adjusts for the fact that 3-pointers are worth more than 2-pointers) in the country. Which means: Teams shoot REALLY poorly when the Cougars are guarding them!
Houston is such a joy to watch because they might not have a single future NBA player on their roster, and they aren’t great at shooting the ball, BUT, they’re a defensive machine. They’re super pesky and block the third-highest percentage of shots in the country AND force 8.2 steals per game!
Another thing — TWO of the Cougars’ best players aren’t even playing (!!). Leading scorer Marcus Sasser suffered a season-ending toe injury in December, and weeks later, Tramon Mark suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Those guys were two of the team’s top-6 scorers from last season’s Final Four run!
Still, we believe in Houston’s depth. Sophomore Jamal Shead has scored 51 points across three tournament games, and senior Kyler Edwards has tallied 59. Look for those two guys to ball out — and then we may be blessed (??) by another shirtless Kelvin Sampson locker room celebration.
We’re betting on the No. 5 Houston Cougars to beat the No. 2 Villanova Wildcats in a moneyline “bet.” That just means we’re picking the Cougars to win by any amount of points.
Though this may look like an “upset” pick, the sportsbook thinks otherwise. Houston (-2) is favored to win by two points.
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