Houston Cougars vs. UAB Blazers 2022 NCAA Tournament Game Preview
- Houston Cougars Spread: -8.5
- UAB Blazers Spread: +8.5
- Houston Cougars Moneyline: -420
- UAB Blazers Moneyline: +330
- Game Over/Under: 137
Houston Cougars vs. UAB Blazers Match Up Overview
Stats via KenPom.
Houston Cougars Preview
After Houston lost Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark early in the season, a lot of analysts wrote them off as a team that couldn’t contend. Since Sasser went down, however, Houston has gone 16-3, ranking fifth in the nation in efficiency.
Now, I am not saying this team is the fifth-best in the nation, but it is a bit of a surprise that the Cougars’ tournament seed might be a higher number than their overall ranking on some analytical websites. Kyler Edwards and Jamal Shead have really stepped up, Their play combined with that of senior center Josh Carlton has helped Houston to top-20 offensive and defensive ratings.
On both sides of the ball, Houston does well inside the arc. Their near-proximity shooting percentage is 67.7%, eighth best in the nation. They also rank ninth in midrange shooting defense. The biggest knock on the Cougars is their lack of Quad I wins and weak strength of schedule. Despite ranking fourth in the NET, Houston only holds one regualr-season Quad I victory, and it came against a team that won’t even make the tournament.
Something else that scares me about Houston is their inability to play away from home. Their 340th away-from-home ranking raises questions about their ability to win on a neutral court. This is a team that most will write off, but Kelvin Sampson led Houston to a Final Four just a year ago. Don’t be shocked if he does it again.
UAB Blazers Preview
UAB has a top-tier offense and a top-100 defense. They’re led by Conference USA Player of the Year Jordan Walker, who averaged 21.6 points and 5.33 assists per game. The Tulane transfer is capable of taking over any game with his three-point shooting and facilitation, ranking 62nd among in assist rate.
The Blazers shoot incredibly well from the perimeter. Their transition game is electric, ranking 13th in the nation in points in transition, and they do a solid job at limiting transition points by their opponents.
The Blazers also force a lot of turnovers but foul at a high clip. This will be a popular choice to pull off a first-round upset, and there is good reason for that. UAB’s offense is consistent, and their defense can throw any team off their game. Watch out for UAB as a potential surprise second-weekend team.
Rapid Prediction for Houston Cougars vs. UAB Blazers
Houston has dominated the AAC recently, as this was their third regular-season title in the last four years. However, this year’s title is arguably Kelvin Sampson’s most satisfying, as the team had to overcome injuries to two of their best players, Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, who combined to appear in just 19 games this year. UAB makes its first tournament appearance since 2015. The Blazers are led by Jordan “Jelly” Walker, who averaged a team-high 20.4 ppg. Walker has averaged 26.7 ppg over the last six, but Houston is one of the stingiest defensive teams in the country, and their ability to keep Walker well under this average will go a long way in deciding the game’s outcome.
Houston Cougars vs. UAB Blazers Round 1 Game Pick