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Memphis Tigers at Houston Cougars Game Preview, Odds, Picks & Predictions

Memphis and Michigan have been two of the most disappointing teams in the country. The Wolverines opened a few eyes with a demolition of No. 3 Purdue. Is Memphis ready to do the same to the American Athletic Conference-leading Houston Cougars?

If talented freshman Emoni Bates is able to play, this could be a game worth putting on the upset-watch list.

Landers Nolley shoots Memphis vs Houston Picks
Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Houston (-400) is the heavy favorite to win the American Athletic Conference title with Southern Methodist being the closest competition. Memphis has seen its odds to win the AAC title tumble to +14000.

The Cougars (+700) have the 12th-best odds to reach the Final Four according to the odds to win March Madness.

Memphis Tigers at Houston Cougars Game Information

  • Game: Memphis (13-8) at Houston (20-3)
  • Location: Fertitta Center
  • Day/Time: Saturday, February 12, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Memphis Tigers vs Houston Cougars Live Stream: ABC

Duren’s Return Provides Boost for Memphis

All it takes is one quick glance at the season statistics for the Memphis Tigers to understand some of the reasons for the uneven play for a team that began the season ranked 12th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Eleven different players have started games but only three players have appeared in all 21 contests.

Highly touted freshmen Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates have missed four and five games respectively.

Bates hasn’t played since a January 27 win over East Carolina. Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said Bates is a game-time decision and if he is able to go, that changes the complexion of this contest and future Memphis games.

— Jason Munz (@munzly) February 10, 2022

There is better and more certain news when it comes to Duren as he returned after missing two games. In his last two games, he is averaging 14.5 points on 75% shooting and 11 rebounds per game as Memphis defeated Central Florida and Tulane.

If there is a silver lining, the other Memphis players have needed to step up when teammates were sidelined.

The Tigers have won four games in a row and with games coming up against Houston, Cincinnati, and Southern Methodist, we’ll get to see if Memphis will truly be a contender in what has been a trying season in Memphis.

Memphis has covered against the college basketball spread in each of the Tigers’ last five games against Houston.

Houston Looks To Continue Home Run

In what has been a wild college basketball season, one constant has been the dominance of the Houston Cougars playing at Fertitta Center.

Not only is Houston 12-0 at home but the Cougars have won 37 straight home games, which is the second-longest active home winning streak in the country trailing only Gonzaga’s 64 consecutive home victories.

The home crowd will look to help Houston rebound from its first American Athletic Conference loss of the season as Southern Methodist connected on 12-of-23 from 3-point range to rally from 15 points down to win 85-83 over the visiting Cougars.

The Cougars have been favored by double digits in each of their last nine home games with Houston failing to cover four times during that stretch.

Houston lost leading scorer Marcus Strasser and Tramon Mack to injuries back in December and it hasn’t cost the Cougars its impressive home winning streak — yet. But at some point not having two of the team’s five double-digit scorers will be too much to overcome.

However, Josh Carlton is connecting on 64% of his shots at home while Fabian White Jr. is shooting 49% in home contests..

Houston has won its four home games in conference play by 20.8 points per game and will look to add another dominating victory to its list when Memphis comes to town.

Houston has covered against the Las Vegas odds in four of its last six games.

Memphis Tigers at Houston Cougars Head-to-Head

Houston has won five of the last six meetings including the last three but failed to cover in each of the last five games as the Tigers’ last four losses have come by two, three, seven, and three points against the favored Cougars.

Four of the last five games in the series have gone under the total.

The last game between the teams came in the semifinals of the 2021 American Athletic Conference tournament with Houston winning 76-74 as a seven-point favorite.

Prediction

The 10½-point line marks the fewest points Houston has been favored by in its last 10 home games. The Cougars have covered in just three of their last seven home games largely because of the sizeable point spreads. The question is whether Memphis, which has been up and down all season, has enough to keep this game close enough to cover.

It’s still hard to rely on this Memphis team to put together a 40-minute effort but a strong effort could start to change the perception of this team failing to live up to its potential.

So much of how this game is viewed by those who bet online will be the status of Memphis freshman Emoni Bates as a completely healthy Memphis team that has the ability to play with anybody in the American Athletic Conference.

Seven of the last 10 Houston games have finished over the total but recent games against Memphis have gone under the total so there is conflicting trends to consider but the 141-point total is pretty enticing.

Pick: Over 141

Pick: Houston Cougars -550

Pick: Houston Cougars -10½ (-115)

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