Houston Cougars vs. South Florida Bulls Predictions

Thu 1/14 7:00 ET
Houston Cougars
South Florida
South Florida Bulls
Tampa, FL

Pickswise's Expert Picks & Analysis

Point Spread Pick

I like the matchup for Houston in this game, so I will lay the big number on the road. Houston’s defense is excellent, ranking sixth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. Not only is their defense elite, it’s a great matchup against South Florida. South Florida’s offense relies on getting shots near the rim, evidenced by their very low three-point attempt rate. The Bulls rank 314th in the percentage of their shots coming from three. It’s going to be very difficult to get good looks against a Houston defense that ranks 15th in two-point percentage defense and 10th in block rate. I also expect South Florida to have major turnover issues in this one. Houston ranks 26th in the country in forcing turnovers, while South Florida is 278th in protecting the ball. The only area where they could have some success is via free throws, thanks to Houston’s propensity to foul. The Cougars are 331st in allowing free throws to their opponents, and South Florida is decent at drawing them. The problem is South Florida is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country at just 59 percent as a team.

On the other side of the ball, Houston should be able to generate second-chance opportunities thanks to their third-ranked offensive rebounding percentage. South Florida is a decent defensive rebounding team, but they have yet to see a team of Houston’s caliber on the boards. In the two meetings last year, Houston tallied 27 offensive rebounds in the two games combined. When you consider South Florida’s turnover issues, combined with Houston’s ability to get multiple shots on a possession, I expect to see a massive discrepancy in the total number of shots taken by each team. This places much less emphasis on the actual shooting percentage for Houston, since the sheer volume of shots could be so much higher than South Florida’s. For example, in one meeting between these two last season, Houston took 60 shots compared to South Florida’s 46. Houston won by 19 despite going 5/21 from three. Not saying that margin is sure to happen again, but it at least exemplifies the value in simply taking more shots. If Houston can not foul at an overwhelming rate, I see no reason why they shouldn’t win this game by double digits.

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