The Saturday college basketball slate might be the best of the season and one of those headline games is February 3rd Houston at Kansas matchup. The #4 Cougars (19-2) have introduced themselves to the Big 12 in a grandiose way, sitting atop the conference in their first year in the league.
The #8 Jayhawks (17-4) suffered a loss at Iowa State last weekend, but bounced back by throttling Oklahoma State by 29 this week. KU has now pushed their mark at home to 11-0 but are still slight +1.5 underdogs vs the Cougars, who have won five in a row.
Why Houston Has Value at -1.5
The fact that the Cougars are favored on the road when Kansas is undefeated at home shows just how good this team is. Houston has rattled off five straight wins, and their only two losses of the season came in back to back games at #12 Iowa State (57-53) and at #25 TCU (68-67). That means UH is five points away from a perfect record losing on the road to two top 25 teams.
While Houston has been consistently great this season, Kansas has been known to trip up from time to time. The Jayhawks have lost by six points at West Virginia as -10 point favorites and lost at UCF as -7.5 favorites so far in Big 12 play. KU was also without leading scorer Kevin McCullar, Jr. (19.8 ppg) on Tuesday with a bruised knee so his availability could be in question.
Houston is the #1 team in the country according to the KenPom rankings, boasting the top defensive efficiency in the nation as well as a top 20 offensive efficiency. L.J. Cryer leads a trio of Cougars players that average at least a dozen points – which doesn’t seem like much but is when you have a defense giving up just 52.9 ppg.
Why Kansas Has Value at +1.5
Sure the Jayhawks have had some tough losses to West Virginia, UCF, and even last weekend at Iowa State but those were all road tilts. KU has taken care of business when playing at the Phog Allen Fieldhouse, winning two of their last three at home by double digits while staying undefeated in Lawrence on the season.
Houston has had a great first year in the Big 12, but they’ve lost two of their conference road games and most recently had to go to OT in Texas before pulling out a 76-72 victory. That’s a Longhorns team that has dropped four of their last six so the Cougars having some struggles could be telling.
McCullar did sit out the win over Oklahoma State this week, but that was probably more of a precaution considering OSU is the worst team in the Big 12. He should be back and with Hunter Dickinson also averaging over 18 ppg that’s the type of offensive production that could neutralize the great Houston defense.
Free February 3rd Houston at Kansas Betting Pick
73% of the betting public feels like Kansas is the play on their own court and the line has moved the Jayhawks’ direction by a point from the +2.5 open. That’s way too much of a lopsided play, and there are worse teams to make a contrarian play on than one that could arguably the best in the country.
Free Pick: Houston -1.5