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Friday, March 22 7:20 P.M. in Tulsa, Oklahoma
The night games in Tulsa will begin with the second 3 vs. 14 match up of the day. Houston finished their regular season atop of the American Athletic Conference with a record of 16-3. They suffered a 12-point loss to Cincinnati in the finals of the conference tournament. Georgia State completed the sweep of the Sun Belt Conference. They won the regular season title with a record of 13-5, and took down UT-Arlington 73-64 in the championship game to earn an automatic bid. There are no injuries to report in this match up.
Houston Can Make History with Win
Houston will enter the NCAA Tournament with 31 wins. They suffered a loss to Cincinnati in the American Championship, but they will have another chance to make history in their first round match up. When Houston defeated Memphis in the semifinals, they won their 31st game of the season which matched their program record set in 1967-1968. Houston can set a new mark with 32 wins if they can beat Georgia State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars suffered just three losses this season. They were beaten on the road against Temple, at home against UCF, and then in the American Championship game. It is hard to beat a team that plays defense like Houston.
— Houston Men's Hoops 🏀 🐾 (@UHCougarMBK) March 18, 2019
The Cougars allowed 61.2 points per game which was eighth in the country. They featured a 14.4 point-differential in the regular season, and conference tournament. With a record of 31-3, Houston is clearly a force. So why did they get just a three-seed? That is a little higher than expected. They play in a mid-major conference, and did not win their conference tournament. This is similar to Gonzaga getting a one-seed after losing in the West Coast Conference Tournament– very surprising. Regardless, Houston is a strong team. Corey Davis Jr. is averaging 16.7 points per game this season to lead the Cougars. Houston will be a surprise team out of their bracket.
Georgia State Captures Sun Belt Title
The Panthers are dancing once again. Georgia State finished the regular season atop the Sun Belt, and they doubled it up in the conference tournament. They were able to pick up wins over Texas State and UT-Arlington on their way to a conference tournament championship. This is the Panthers’ third tournament appearance in the last five seasons. They are four years past their miraculous win over Baylor in 2015. Who can forget the image of head coach Ron Hunter falling off his still after his son, R.J., delivered a dagger three in the hearts of Baylor? Anyone remember what seed they were in that game? You guessed it, 14. This could be a destiny game for the Panthers. Hunter certainly knows that anything is possible heading into March.
Cinderella in downtown Atlanta? Congrats to @GeorgiaStateMBB on their 2nd straight trip to #MarchMadness! Ron Hunter’s squad is coming for 3-seed Houston! https://t.co/9Xdmn00SOQ pic.twitter.com/lFEDW7ksPg
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) March 18, 2019
Hunter does not have his son this year, but he does have D’Marcus Simonds. The junior averaged 18.4 points in the regular season. Georgia State drew a tough match up. They do not stack up well against Houston. The Panthers scored 77.1 points per game in the regular season which was 67th in the nation. Their defense was not strong which will have them struggling against a team like the Cougars. One thing the Panthers can do well is shoot the three. As a team, they shot 38.8% from deep which was 17th in the nation. They will need to get hot early, and stay hot against a strong defensive team like Houston.
- Cougars are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games
- Cougars are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 neutral site games
- Cougars are 19-9-1 ATS in their last 29 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
- Cougars are 23-11-1 ATS in their last 35 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
- Cougars are 33-16-2 ATS in their last 51 games overall
- Under is 4-1 in Panthers last 5 NCAA Tournament games
- Under is 9-3 in Panthers last 12 neutral site games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Unfortunately for Georgia State, lightning will not strike twice in the 3 vs. 14 game. Houston is a top defensive team in the nation, and that will give the Panthers fits. On the season, Houston finished 21-12-1 ATS while Georgia State was 17-14-1. Houston won eight of their last 10 games heading into the tournament. This spread is a little lower than expected. Despite the conference they play in, Houston can make noise in the tournament. They did not play their best game against Cincy in the conference tournament final, but the Cougars can overpower a team like Georgia State.
Prediction: Houston -12
Full-Game Total Pick
In this game, advantage Cougars. It is high scoring against strong defense. Houston does not give up many points while Georgia State is averaging 77 points per contest. Oh yeah, Houston is no slouch offensively either. But it will be their defense that carries this game under. It is unlikely that this will be a game that is played in the 70’s. In fact, it is hard to imagine Georgia State scoring 60 points. Four of their last five tournament games have been under, and this will be another given their inability to score on Houston.
Prediction: Under 141.5