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Houston vs. Texas: Expert Pick and Prediction – January 29, 2024

Houston vs. Texas Expert Pick and Prediction – January 29, 2024

HOUSTON VS. TEXAS EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – January 29, 2024 — This is the game that Houston basketball wanted to play for years but never could. And of course, with Texas departing for the SEC next season, it’s the only shot the Cougars get to face the Longhorns in Austin as Big 12 rivals.

The Longhorns probably won’t be disappointed to leave the Big 12 behind, as they haven’t adjusted at all to the league’s new look. They’ve already faced the other three newcomers, and they’ve taken losses to both Brigham Young and Central Florida. They managed to edge Cincinnati, but at 14-6, it’s clear that Texas isn’t up to par in the new Big 12.

Related: Angell’s Sports Analysis, Jan. 29

And that’s a problem for this game, because there’s no game on the slate that Houston wants more. For the past three decades, the Cougars have felt disrespected by the Texas Power 5 schools after they got left out of the Big 12 when the Southwest Conference collapsed. Houston has gradually built itself into one of the dominant forces in college basketball, but the chip on the shoulder remains for the Cougars.

Winning in Austin would confirm what Kelvin Sampson’s built as almost nothing else could. And that means the Longhorns will get the Cougars’ best shot at a time where they really can’t afford to take it.

The Odds

Matchup Open Spread Points Moneyline

(18-2 SU, 11-8-1 ATS) 

-5.5 -5.5 O130.5 -230

(13-7 SU, 9-10 ATS) 

U147 +3.5 U130.5 +185


When: Monday, January 29 at 9 p.m. EST

Where: Moody Center, Austin, Texas 


Public Bets: 56% on Texas

Public Money: 64% on Texas

Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 28th, 2024.

Houston vs. Texas In-Season Trends

Houston doesn’t mean an automatic under, because the Cougars can score. The Cougars play at such a slow pace that they usually don’t go above 75 points, but in those situations, the Cougars play overs because they shoot the ball well. Interestingly, all three of the Cougars’ failures to cover the spread in Big 12 play came with an under to go with it.

Related: Duke vs. Virginia Tech Pick and Prediction

Texas sits on the opposite end of the spectrum: the Longhorns rarely cover and usually give up a lot of points. Oklahoma’s the only Big 12 opponent (and in fact, the only Power 6 opponent all season) who has failed to hit 73 points against Texas, and that happened more because the Sooners couldn’t hit anything all day rather than because of anything Texas did. Defense was a strength last year for the Longhorns, but it’s proving to be anything but this season.

The Difference-Makers

Max Abmas is going to have to work for everything he gets in this game. In three of his past five games, he’s shot well under his season average of 40.6% from deep, and that was against lesser defenses than Houston. If the Longhorns can’t get a strong shooting night out of him, it’s hard to see them keeping this close.

Jamal Shead leads the Cougars in steals, and Texas has had its problems with giving up quick points off of turnovers. If Shead can get going and get his teammates in the flow, Houston has a big edge.

The Pick

The way the Cougars play fits well with Texas’ weaknesses. The Longhorns don’t take care of the ball very well, and they don’t play the kind of defense that you need to play in order to frustrate Houston.

The Cougars will likely have little trouble getting the shots they want or getting some layups off of Texas mistakes. There really isn’t anywhere that Texas has the edge on Houston statistically, and the Cougars have wanted this game for so long that it’s hard to see the Longhorns hanging tight. This spread looks like a manageable play.

Dan’s Picks  

 Houston -5.5  

 Over 130.5  


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