No. 6 Houston vs UCF

No. 6 Houston vs UCF | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on December 25, 2020

The two best basketball teams in Conference USA this season might be No. 6 Houston and unranked Central Florida, in that order. They square off Saturday afternoon from Orlando, with the Cougars expected to be short favorites on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Houston at Central Florida NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, noon ET
  • Where: Addition Financial Arena, Orlando
  • TV: ABC
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: TBA (Houston will be favored)

Last Meeting

The teams played just once last season and Houston was a 78-63 home winner. Nate Hinton dominated with 20 points and 16 rebounds. He’s now in the NBA. Houston led 37-33 at halftime and saw UCF cut its lead to two points twice in the early going of the second half. Frank Bertz cut the gap to 47-45 with a 3-pointer at 13:40 only to see Houston take off on a 12-1 run over the next four-plus minutes. DeJon Jarreau made 7 of 8 from the line in that stretch. Dazon Ingram had 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Knights.

Why Bet on Houston? | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Cougars (6-0) opened their AAC schedule on Tuesday with a 76-50 home rout of Temple. Junior guard Quentin Grimes had 22 points and seven rebounds, and senior forward Justin Gorham had 14 points and 12 boards.

Grimes scored at least 20 points for the third straight game as the Cougars shot 48 percent, including 10 of 26 on 3-pointers. Junior forward Reggie Chaney had 13 points and Tramon Mark scored 12 for Houston. The Cougars played once again without last year’s leading scorer Caleb Mills, who has played in just two games so far this season. The 6-foot-3-inch guard has been hampered by an ankle injury for most of the season but reportedly will play Saturday. He averaged 13.2 ppg last year.

Houston knocked down 10 3-pointers vs. Temple, the second time this season Houston has converted 10 or more 3-pointers in a game. Houston has not allowed an opponent to score 60 or more points in five of its six games this season. Houston outrebounded Temple, 43-26, extending its streak of not losing the rebounding battle to 36 games. The Cougars have not been outrebounded by an opponent since Kentucky accomplished that, 36-23, during the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in Kansas City, Mo., on March 29, 2019

Tuesday marked the largest conference opening win since Jan. 16, 2008, when the Houston defeated SMU, 99-71. Houston is 14-1 when competing as No. 6 team in Associated Press poll. The Cougars have won nine consecutive games when playing as the No. 6 (AP) team. Houston’s lone loss as a No. 6 (AP) team was a 69-64 setback at USC on Dec. 7, 1968.

Houston is 6-0 for the second time in the last three years. This is the fifth time in history Houston has started 6-0. UH has had three players reach double-digit scoring marks in five consecutive games. Grimes has three consecutive 20-point outings. It’s is the first time a Houston player has scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games since Rob Gray in 2017.

Why Bet on Central Florida? | 2020 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Central Florida (3-1) beat Cincinnati 75-70 on Tuesday in Orlando. Senior Brandon Mahan knocked down three key three-pointers to fuel a UCF run early in the second half as the Knights pulled away from a halftime tie.

The trio of Mahan (game-high 25 points, team-high 10 rebounds), freshman Isaiah Adams (15 points, 13 in the second half) and sophomore Darin Green Jr. (12 points) combined for 52 of the Knights’ points. Adams, the first Florida Mr. Basketball to sign at UCF, has made an immediate impact with the Knights. Adams currently leads The American with 2.3 steals per game.

“I liked our poise at the end of the game,” said Knight head coach Johnny Dawkins of Tuesday’s win. “They were going to make a run and they made their run. We needed guys to step up and make big plays and several guys did that for us. You have to have that type of composure at the end of a ballgame. We’ve been growing up some.”

UCF shot 53.6 percent (15 of 28) from the floor after intermission, while limiting the Bearcats to 41.1 during those final 20 minutes. The Knights notched 26 points overall off turnovers, compared to seven for the visitors.

The Knights already have an upset of then-No. 15 Florida State this season, coming last Saturday in Tallahassee. While it marked the first ranked opponent UCF has defeated this season, it was the fifth that the Knights have taken down since Dawkins took over for the 2016-17 season. Prior to Dawkins’ arrival at UCF, the program had won three games against ranked opponents from 1984-2016.

The Knights are 8-46 all-time against ranked opponents, but 5-12 against ranked teams under Dawkins.

Expert Prediction

  • Houston 69, Central Florida 63

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