Houston, We Have No Problem

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No. 1 seed in the South Region Houston has had no problem becoming one of the top college basketball teams in the country. It’s something the Cougars have been doing for the last several years. Head coach Kelvin Sampson has built Houston into a perennial power. Tonight, the Cougars will take on another storied program – Duke. The fourth-seeded Blue Devils have been up and down all season long, but have what it takes to pull the upset tonight.

Houston, We Have No Problem
Clemson upset Arizona in the Sweet 16 last night.

Upsets were plenty last night in the Sweet 16. Three of the four lower-seeded teams – and three of the four betting underdogs – pulled upsets last night. It started with No. 6 Clemson beating No. 2 Arizona in the West Region. In the other West Region game, No. 1 seed North Carolina fell to No. 4 Alabama, 89-87. In the East, Illinois, a 1.5-point underdog, beat Iowa State 72-69. Houston will try and avoid the upset tonight against the Blue Devils.

Houston Trying to Win First National Title

If you remember your college basketball history, the 1980s Houston Cougars were outstanding. Houston reached the national championship game in consecutive seasons, only to lose both times. In the 1983 final, Houston lost on a last-second dunk by Lorenzo Charles. A year later, the Cougars lost 84-75 to Georgetown.

Those 1980s teams that featured Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were known for their fast pace and wild dunks. The 2020s Houston Cougas are known for one thing – defense. Houston has had the best defense in college basketball all season long. That is something that Sampson has instilled since Day 1 at Houston. 

Houston, We Have No Problem
Houston lost to NC State in the 1983 national championship game.

This is Year 10 of the Sampson era. After a losing record in his first season, Sampson took Houston to consecutive NITs. Since, the Cougars have been a mainstay in the Sweet 16. Since the 2018-19 season, Houston has been to five straight Sweet 16s, including two Elite Eights, and a trip to the 2021 Final Four.

Defense Wins Championships

After those first three seasons at Houston, Sampson’s defensive-oriented philosophy really began to shine. Beginning with the 2017-18 season, Houston has finished in the Top 15 in scoring defense every year since. That includes the COVID season in 2019-20. In each of the past four seasons, Houston has finished No. 1, 2, or 3 in scoring defense. 

In the past four seasons, Houston has finished 28-4, 32-6, 33-4, and they are currently 32-4 heading into tonight’s game against Duke. What’s interesting is that of the Cougars’ four losses this season, two of them were to Iowa State. What do Houston and Iowa State have in common? They are two of the best defenses in the country. Iowa State ranked No. 4 in scoring defense, but the Cyclones were eliminated from the tournament last night by Illinois.

If Houston is going to continue on to the Elite Eight, it’s defense will have to slow down Kyle Filipkowski and Jared McCain, who both average 16.6 points per game for the Blue Devils. In their win over James Madison to get to the Sweet 16, McCain hit 8-of-11 threes and finished with 30 points. If anyone can slow down an opponent, it’s Houston. The Cougars allow an average of just 57.7 points per game.

Handicappers Go on the Offensive

Sports Hub handicappers decided to go on the offensive and get after both Opening Day MLB action and the NCAA tournament Sweet 16. It was a huge day for Sas Insider, who went 11-5 and topped the leaderboard with profits of $727. It was the second straight Daily Top 5 appearance for the Insider.

The rest of our top cappers performed admirably as well. The entire Top 5 took home at least $300 and, collectively, won 75 percent of their picks. Our handicappers already have a dozen or so MLB picks and over two dozen NCAA tournament picks in the system. Members can check throughout the day for more. If you’re not a SportsHub member, it’s free to register. As a member, you’ll gain access to the best sports handicappers in the world.

Let’s check some of them out.

  • Insider trading: Once again, Sas Insider comes through with a series of winning picks. One day after going 6-4, the Insider went 11-5 and took home $727. With yesterday’s stellar performance, Sas Insider took over the top spot in our overall 30-day leaderboard. The Insider is up $3415 for the month.
Houston, We Have No Problem
Sas Insider took over the lead on the 30-day leaderboard.
  • Bill & Dan: Or Dan and Bill, if you prefer. Bill Blatt and Dan Jones are no surprises to the Daily Top 5. Yesterday, both went 4-0 and cashed $400 in winnings. Bill hit both of his MLB picks. Dan is up $540 over the last seven days.
  • Tonny back in the mix: Tonny Ricci went 4-1 yesterday and earned $535. His MLB picks went 2-1 on Opening Day. It’s good to see Tonny back at the top of the Daily Leaderboard.
  • MLB’s best: If you went all in on Opening Day, you were a huge winner if you tailed Scott at SWJ Sports. He went 6-1 on his MLB picks, 7-4 overall, and won a total of $310. If you weren’t riding with Scott, hopefully you were on Sal Lombardi. Sal is our go-to baseball guy and it showed yesterday. He started the new season off with a 4-0 baseball day. He hit both the Pirates and Orioles at plus-money and earned a profit of $425 on his MLB picks yesterday.

Upsets Rule Sweet 16’s First Day

You knew they were coming. A No. 1 and a No. 2 have checked out of the NCAA tournament at the hands of a lower seed on Day 1 of the Sweet 16. Day 2 continues tonight. Will it be more of the same? 

March Madness rules on this Friday, but there is some NFL draft news and it concerns one of the top quarterback prospects. Read on to learn more.

Here’s today’s trending sports news.

  • Clemson: The Tigers entered the NCAA tourney as a No. 6 seed. Many had the Tigers losing to No. 11 New Mexico in the first round. Head coach Brad Brownlee’s team is a lot better than most people think. Last night, the Tigers defeated No. 2 Arizona 77-72 to advance to the Elite Eight. Clemson faces Alabama, a team they have beaten this season, on Saturday with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
  • Speaking of Alabama: The Crimson Tide defeated No. 1 seed North Carolina last night, 89-87. The Tar Heels are the first No. 1 seed to be eliminated from March Madness.
  • Cyclones fizzle: Illinois, a 1.5-point underdog, pulled the third upset last night, beating Iowa State 72-69. The Cyclones, the No. 2 seed, were a Top 5 defense and hadn’t allowed more than 65 points in a game since mid-February. 
  • Huskies look to defend title: UConn, the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, looked exactly like it last night. In a rematch of last year’s national title game, the Huskies pounded San Diego State 82-52. UConn was the only favorite to win last night.
  • Penix can run: NFL quarterback prospect Michael Penix Jr. ran under 4.6 in the 40-yard dash at Washington’s Pro Day yesterday. Penix’s speed was something on the mind of many NFL scouts. He showed his explosiveness with a 36.5-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10-feet-5-inches. Those numbers would have been the best by a quarterback at the NFL combine.

Houston-Duke Leads Big Night in College Basketball

Four more tickets to the Elite Eight will be punched tonight. No. 1 Houston faces No. 4 Duke in the South Regional semifinal. Houston lost in this exact spot one year ago. The Cougars dropped an 89-75 decision to No. 5 seed Miami in a Sweet 16 game. Duke lost in last year’s second round. Since 1987, Duke has been a No. 4 seed or lower five times. All five teams made it to the Sweet 16, but none of them advanced any further.

Here’s a look at tonight’s sports schedule.

  1. March Madness: In addition to Houston and Duke, No. 11 NC State will face No. 2 Marquette in the other South Regional semifinal. In the Midwest Region, No. 5 Gonzaga plays No. 1 Purdue and No. 3 Creighton takes on No. 2 Tennessee.
  2. Pro basketball: There are 12 NBA games on the schedule tonight. With all eyes on Houston and the NCAA tournament, NBATV will have the doubleheader. The Lakers play at Indiana in the early game. Dallas is at Sacramento in the late one.
  3. Yes, it’s baseball season: After Opening Day yesterday, there are 10 more MLB games today. Apple TV+ has a doubleheader featuring the Yankees and Astros at 8:10 p.m. ET followed by the Cardinals and Dodgers at 10:10 p.m. ET.
  1. World soccer: Cadiz takes on Granada in La Liga action today. Lille faces Lens in France’s Ligue 1. It’s a big day in England where there are 10 English League Championship matches. 
  2. Just one: All it takes is one, right? Hockey bettors can still find action on a big basketball night. New Jersey plays at Buffalo with the puck drop at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Devils are a -115 favorite.
  3. Scheffler again: Scottie Scheffler, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, entered today’s second round of the Texas Children’s Houston Open one shot behind co-leaders Wilson Furr and Taylor Moore. The second round is already in progress. Scheffler is the favorite to win.
  4. Miami Open semifinals: Jannick Sinner will take on Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals of the Miami Open today. Alexander Zverez plays Grigor Dmitrov in the other. The women are off today. The final between Elena Rybakina and Danielle Collins is tomorrow.

Will Houston Win?

The Cougars are a 3.5-point favorite tonight to beat Duke. The game total tonight is 134.5, which speaks to the defense of both teams. Houston is the nation’s best, allowing just 57.7 points per game. Duke is in the Top 30, ranking 27th allowing 66.5 points per game.

Houston has won 13 of its past 14 games. Duke is 10-3 SU and ATS in its last 13. If you’re undecided on this one, go right to the Sports Hub members’ area and get your head cleared by our elite handicappers. There will be several dozen picks for this game in the system by this afternoon. Check them out and then come back tomorrow to see how you measured up against our cappers.