College Basketball Odds, Picks & Prediction for Saint Mary’s vs. Houston

Saint Mary’s vs. Houston Odds

Two of the slowest and best programs in the country align Saturday night for the top game of the slate.

The Battleground 2K22 takes place in Fort Worth, Texas, with the second game of the doubleheader consisting of the Houston Cougars and the Saint Mary’s Gaels.

Houston is now first in the AP Poll and second on KenPom. Even with a close call against Kent State (49-44), the Cougars are poised for a deep NCAA tournament run this season.

The Gaels are coming off of two straight losses — one to Washington in overtime (yuck!) and the other to New Mexico, which has itself an intriguing team this season under Richard Pitino.

Houston is clearly better squad in this matchup, so this is where the Gaels need to bring their best.

However, the best projected outcome of this game is few possessions and few points. Houston ranks 342nd in Adjusted Tempo (per KenPom) while the Gaels rank 314th.

In addition, both of these teams prosper defensively and lack a bit offensively, especially on the Gaels’ end of the court.

The under has value at open and will drop progressively until tip-off.

Saint Mary’s is still ranked in KenPom’s top-30, so hopefully those two losses (Washington, New Mexico) do not hurt it too much in the long term.

When competing with Houston, the Gaels will need to hit their 3s. Houston is only allowing opponents to shoot 18.5% from deep and 39.3% from 2-point range this season.

Saint Mary’s equally scores amongst 2s and 3s, but it shoots under 50% inside the arc. From distance, though, the Gaels are hitting nearly 40%.

It’s going to be unbearably tough for the Gaels to find an open look, especially since they already play Houston’s game.

Photo by CBB Analytics

One weakness the Cougars have is defensive rebounding. On the year, they rank 223rd in allowed offensive rebounding percentage, while the Gaels rank sixth in that metric.

That said, the Gaels come in at 104th in offensive rebounding — the Cougars rank fourth — so that edge is mostly negated.

Saint Mary’s has one more edge, and that is not fouling on the defensive end. This is mainly conducive to the aggression Houston plays with, but the Cougars rank 184th in free-throw attempt percentage on the defensive end.

Unfortunately, the Gaels only get to the line 31.6% of the time, which is about NCAA average.

Expect Saint Mary’s to have a little advantage here, but since it shoots only a collective 63.7% from the charity strike, it could be its own enemy.

Because both of these defenses rank in the top 10, Houston has an enormous advantage on the offensive side.

As pointed out above, the Cougars likely are not going to haul in offensive rebounds like they are used to. Kyle Bowen and Mitchell Saxen will battle on the glass and steal some from the usual boards from Jarace Walker and J’Wan Roberts.

Houston may manufacture fewer free-throw attempts than the Gaels, but it can score the ball inside-and-out.

Tramon Mark,…

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Read More: College Basketball Odds, Picks & Prediction for Saint Mary’s vs. Houston 2022-12-02 22:35:00

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