After surviving a scare in its first-round matchup with Northern Kentucky, Houston marches on to face an Auburn team fresh off an offensive clinic against Iowa.
Auburn saw a total of six players score double figures against the Hawkeyes, including a 19-point performance from center Johni Broome, who also grabbed 12 boards.
Things were much less positive for top-seeded Houston, Northern Kentucky had a serious chance to pull off a historic upset before pulling away late to ultimately win by 11. This poor performance was the result of Houston posting 17 total turnovers, well above its season average of 9.9.
To determine if Houston will see an improvement against a red-hot Auburn offense, let’s take a look at the odds and make a prediction for this second-round matchup between Auburn and Houston.
Although what Auburn did on the offensive end was certainly impressive, I believe it should see some regression against Houston in the second round. The Tigers scored 11 points over their season average as the result of facing an Iowa defense that has been abysmal all season.
Overall, the Hawkeyes ranked outside the top 300 in effective field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and 2-point percentage, making them a perfect matchup for an Auburn offense that had struggled to find consistency.
Offensively, the Tigers rank inside the top 50 in Adjusted Efficiency but have struggled from deep. They sit 309th nationally in 3-point percentage, scoring just 26.9% of their points from beyond the arc.
This isn’t a recipe for success against a Houston team that’s allowing teams to score just 44.5% of their points on the interior, one of the lowest rates in all of college basketball.
In addition, Houston ranks 16th nationally in steal percentage, which should create trouble for an Auburn offense that has allowed steals on 10.3% of its offensive possessions to rank 304th nationally.
Look for some serious regression for Auburn on the offensive end against a Houston defense that ranks 162 spots higher than the Hawkeyes in Adjusted Efficiency.
If Houston wants to see improvement from its opening-round matchup with Northern Kentucky, it will need to take better care of the basketball. Luckily for the Cougars, Auburn has not been overly effective in the turnover department, ranking 116th nationally in turnover percentage.
Limiting turnovers will allow Houston to take advantage of what should be a serious rebounding advantage on the offensive end. The Cougars rank fourth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, creating second chances on 37.2% of their field-goal attempts.
These second chances should come early and often against an Auburn defense that allows a 32% offensive rebounding percentage, 317th nationally.
However, you can’t talk about this Houston offense without talking about the injury developments at the guard position. In the Cougars’ opening-round matchup, Marcus Sasser reinjured his groin, while Jamal Shead is dealing with a knee injury.
The injuries to Houston’s backcourt once again bring into question the ability of this Cougar offense to limit turnovers. With Sasser out and Shead limited, freshman Emanuel Sharp stepped in and scored 10 points in 22 minutes of action.
Although there’s a lot of uncertainty regarding Houston on the offensive end, it will still rely on its defense to drive a ship that ranks fourth nationally in Adjusted Efficiency.
This level of defensive play will be a shock to the system of an Auburn offense fresh off a stellar performance against Iowa’s shoddy defense.
On the other end, look for Houston to continue to try and slow things down offensively if Sasser or Shead are limited or unable to suit up.
Given this emphasis on defense — plus Houston’s injury status — I believe the best investment is on the under with a spot in the Swet 16 on the line.
QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.
How would you rate this article?
This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.
Irad Ortiz Jr. rides Forte to victory past Juan Hernandez on Cave Rock during the Breeders' Cup ... [+] Juvenile raceat the Keenelend Race Course, Friday, Nov.
The LSU women's basketball team advanced to the first national title game in history with its Final Four victory over Virginia Tech on Friday night in Dallas, t
After the Supreme Court legalized sports wagering in any state that wanted to host it, the number of commercials trying to convince you to download their apps s
The Premier League is back after the international break with some tantalizing fixtures, headlined by Manchester City vs Liverpool to kick off the weekend slate