A couple of preseason top 25 teams square off in an ACC-AAC clash on Tuesday’s sports betting card when the Virginia Cavaliers travel to the Lone Star State for a collision against the Houston Cougars.
Let’s break down the NCAAB odds for this matchup.
Virginia Cavaliers vs. Houston Cougars
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Fertitta Center
Dropping the season opener at home to Navy might have been the biggest upset of the first week, and that has Tony Bennett and Virginia playing a bit of catchup in Week 2 after dropping out of the two polls. Kelvin Sampson and Houston almost suffered a similar fate against Hofstra to begin the season but righted the ship in time to secure a win in overtime.
Virginia won the ACC regular-season title a year ago but had to drop out of the conference tourney due to virus protocols. The Cavaliers were picked fourth on the college basketball futures to win the ACC this season, their 6/1 price trailing Duke (+200), Florida State (+350) and North Carolina (+375).
Houston finished second in the AAC during the regular season, then won the conference tournament. The Cougars are picked second again this time as a +240 pick, close behind Memphis at +200.
Wahoos and Coogs Meet for First Time in 32 Years
A quick check of the numbers being posted for the contest finds GTbets (visit our GTbets Review) favoring the Cougars by 7.5, with the Cavaliers fetching a +270 moneyline for anyone who expects an outright upset. The clash between two solid defenses has the evening’s lowest total at 123.
Virginia and Houston split their half-dozen previous matchups, all six of those games taking place during a 7-year span in the 1980s when all indications were a new intersectional rivalry was blooming. That rivalry fizzled out, however, and Tuesday’s tilt marks the first meeting since a 1989 contest at old University Hall in Charlottesville, VA.
The programs first met in December 1982 in Tokyo during an early-season tournament sponsored by a Japanese whiskey distiller. That game went to Virginia by a 72-63 score and is notable for featuring two future NBA teammates, Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon and Virginia’s Ralph Sampson. Another meeting took place at the Seattle Kingdome during the 1984 Final Four, the Cougars scoring a 49-47 win to advance to their second consecutive championship game.
Cavs Offense Goes MIA Against Navy
Bennett couldn’t get his offense and defense in synch in the 66-58 loss to Navy a week ago. The defense was lacking during the first half when the Midshipmen put up 42 points, that number well above the Cavaliers’ 60.5 PPG allowed a season ago when they finished sixth nationally in the category. The offense then went missing in the second half when Virginia managed just one 3-point bucket in the final nine minutes of action.
Play was improved on both ends of the court in Virginia’s follow-up game on Friday against Radford, a 73-52 final that had enough to cover the 17.5-point spread at the top sportsbooks. The Cavaliers lost a ton of offense when Sam Hauser, Jay Huff and Trey Murphy III left, and supplying that offense in the win over Radford were Armaan Franklin (21 pts), a junior guard from Indiana and Jayden Gardner (18 pts), a senior forward from East Carolina.
Sasser Picking Up Scoring Slack for UH
Houston was incredibly fortunate to get past Hofstra in its season opener the Cougars trailing by 13 in the second half and down by five with about 2:30 left. They eventually turned things on for an 83-75 decision but it was nowhere near enough to cover the 18.5-point spread on the college basketball odds.
After scoring 25 in the comeback against Hofstra, Marcus Sasser netted 26 in Friday’s 79-46 spanking of crosstown rival Rice. Sasser is 8-18 from 3-point range in the first two games and will be counted on heavily at the offensive end after Sampson saw Quentin Grimes (17.8 ppg) and DeJon Jarreau (10.6 ppg) depart.
Tramon Mark, who averaged nearly eight points and 20 minutes a game last year for the Cougars, was expected to take on a larger role this time around but has missed the first two games with a shoulder injury. His status for Tuesday remains up in the air.
It would not be a surprise if both sides failed to break the 60-point plateau, which makes the ‘under’ very inviting. But I also believe the Cavaliers are being undervalued by a couple of points here and will make my free college basketball pick on the underdogs.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.