NCAA Basketball Pick: Houston Cougars vs. Temple Owls

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, March 1, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

The Houston Cougars are coming off of a home upset of nationally ranked Memphis and they now hit the road to visit the 7-20 Temple Owls on ESPNU Saturday night.

The visiting team may have a tough time avoiding a letdown vs. the disappointing home club Saturday night when the Houston Cougars (14-14, 2-8 away) pay a visit to the Temple Owls (7-20, 3-9 home) at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA at 9:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at Bet365 has Temple as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -3 with odds of -110.

Houston got back to .500 with a 77-68 home upset of the 21st ranked Memphis Tigers on Thursday while possibly catching the Tigers looking ahead to their big game with Louisville this afternoon. That the second big upset for the Cougars this season after knocking off Connecticut earlier in the year, but both of those upsets came in Houston and the Cougars are just 2-8 in true road games while losing those contests by an ungodly average of 13.6 points!

Meanwhile this has been a disastrous season for Temple, which has become accustomed to going to the post-season over the years. That will not be the case this year with the Owls having their worst season in memory at 7-20, although the Owls did almost inexplicably rise up to beat 23rd ranked SMU in this building for their only win in the last eight games. This may now be their most winnable game since then, especially with Houston in a potential letdown spot.

The Cougars are a middle-of-the-road .500 team that gave an all-out effort in that upset of Memphis, and we just do not see Houston bringing that same energy vs. what is perceived to be a lesser opponent. After all, Houston is only ranked 215th in the country in points scored and 218th in points against, so those big efforts such as the two home upsets this year have been few and far between.

Furthermore they have been considerably worse on the road, where that average just 62.7 points on a poor 41.0 percent shooting and are allowing a disturbing 76.3 points per game on a generous 47.3 percent shooting. The Cougars are a half-decent 96th overall in offensive efficiency, but that is more than offset by ranking 205th in defensive efficiency. They have not applied hardly any pressure, ranking 241st in defensive turnover percentage.

That takes on added significance here because Temple has been excellent at ball protection despite the 7-20 record, ranking an outstanding 25th in offensive turnover percentage at just 15.4 percent compared to the national average of 18.4 percent.

Temple is a young team that starts one senior in Dalton Pepper and the Owls have also faced one of the strongest schedules in the entire country as it ranks seventh in SOS, so their struggles are not all that surprising. Yet though it all, the Owls rank 80th in the country in offensive efficiency, which is higher than Houston ranks and because of the large disparity in the offensive/defensive turnover percentages, Temple can do whatever it wants on offense here.

In fact these teams are not separated by that much on the Pomeroy Ratings overall despite the huge difference in their records as Houston is ranked 137th and Temple 155th, and with Temple being home here and the Cougars being in letdown mode, look for an Owls’ win on Saturday.

[gameodds]14/259807/?r-1=43-238-92-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Temple -3 (-110)