Two conference champions will square off in the South Region on Friday night when the #5-seeded Houston Cougars take on the #12-seeded University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers. Check out March Madness Odds, analysis, and a free prediction for UAB Blazers versus Houston Cougars.
Men’s College Basketball March Madness Betting: #12 UAB vs #5 Houston Match Preview
UAB versus Houston Overview | March Madness First Round
The Cougars got to this point by winning the regular season and tournament championships in the American Athletic Conference. They defeated Memphis on Saturday to win the tournament title. UAB won the Conference USA Tournament by defeating Louisiana Tech to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Both teams come into this one playing well, as the Cougars have won nine of their last 10, with their only loss coming to Memphis in the regular season, while the Blazers have won seven straight.
Both of these squads can light up the scoreboard, as UAB is averaging nearly 80 points per game, while Houston tallies just over 75 points per contest.
Andy Kennedy has built up the UAB program through recruiting and through the transfer portal. UAB has four players averaging in double figures this season, led by guard Jordan “Jelly” Walker.
Walker averages 20 points per game. Kennedy’s former player at Ole Miss, KJ Buffen, transferred to UAB and has been a big contributor to the team this season.
Kelvin Sampson’s squad has overcome the loss of their top scorer early in the season to get to this point. After winning the AAC titles and achieving a #4 overall ranking in the KenPom rankings, Houston feels that they deserved higher than a #5 seed. This could make a motivated team even more motivated.
The Houston Cougars love to slow things down on the offensive end of the floor. They rank 333rd in the nation in offensive tempo.
This will be a sharp contrast to the style of UAB, as they love to run the ball up and down the floor. Houston also relies heavily on their stellar defense. They rank 11th in the country in defensive efficiency.
Houston also has a size advantage over UAB. If they guard well and use their length and athleticism to their advantage, they should be able to slow the Blazers’ high-powered offense down.
While there always seems to be a #12 seed that beats a #5 seed, we’re not sure that it will happen in this one. The oddsmakers have made the Houston Cougars a 8.5 point favorite in their first-round NCAA Tournament matchup. In looking at some of the betting numbers, we see a lot of similarities.
At neutral sites, Houston is 6-1 against the spread this season, while UAB is 4-1 against the spread on the year. However, there is one betting stat that stands out and gives us a clear-cut pick. In their last 33 games that they’ve been favored, the Houston Cougars are 29-4 against the spread.
Prior to seeing that stat, we were still going to go with the Houston Cougars in this one, but seeing that solidifies our pick for us. The Cougars will be motivated, as they got a seed lower than they deserved, and many feel that they breezed through an easy conference.
They want to show the country that they can compete with anyone, and we look for them to make a huge statement in this one. Houston wins by 15 and moves on to the second round.