Houston Cougars vs. Kentucky Wildcats Pick
The defense will likely be center-stage as No. 2 seed Kentucky faces No. 3 seed Houston in Friday's Midwest Regional semifinal in Kansas City, Mo.
Houston ranks seventh in the country in scoring defense at 61 points allowed per game, while Kentucky is 28th at 64.5. In the first two NCAA Tournament games, Kentucky has allowed an average of 50 points while Houston has allowed an average of 57. The Cougars come into this game as a 3 point underdog.
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Defense Wins Championships
Both coaches were pleased with their defensive efforts in the second round.
“Brison Gresham was by far our best big guy tonight,” Kelvin Sampson said following the Cougars’ 74-59 win over No. 11 seed Ohio State, “It was his defense. (Ohio State center) Kaleb Wesson had seven shot attempts, and six of them threes. That means we won that battle. When we’ve got him taking threes, that’s a good thing for us.”
Wildcats as the Blue Blood
Kentucky’s focus was to slow down NCAA career record-holder in three-pointers made, Fletcher Magee. He finished 0 for 12, logging the most 3-pointers ever attempted in an NCAA Tournament game without a make.
“We were never going to go under any screen,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “The bigs were going to help as long as they had to.”
The Cougars have been strong on the boards thus far in the tournament. They out-rebounded Georgia State 51-27 in their 84-55 win in the first round. They then grabbed 37 rebounds, compared with Ohio State’s 31, in the win on Sunday night. Armoni Brooks leads the team with 6.4 rebounds per game.
Houston is led in the scoring department by Corey Davis Jr. The senior guard averages 17.1 points per game and had 21 in the win over the Buckeyes. Davis Jr. has attempted 26 3-point attempts in the two games, connecting on 10 of them and shooting 42 percent from long-range this season.
Kentucky played lockdown defense in its first two tournament wins. The Wildcats dominated Abilene Christian 79-44 in the first round and then held Wofford to 37.5 percent from the field in their 62-56 second-round victory on Saturday.
Reid Travis has helped lead Kentucky in this tournament, accumulating 20 rebounds along with 32 points in two games, which included a double-double against Wofford. The senior guard is averaging 11.5 points on a 53 percent clip from the field. PJ Washington has missed the first two games of the tournament with a foot sprain, as it's a next-man-up mentality for the Wildcats who continue to play without their leading scorer.
“We coach every kid like (he’s) a starter,” Calipari said. “We don’t know who’s going to be a star. It’s hard. What these kids go through, I appreciate the kids we have.”
While Kentucky is a regular in this round of the NCAA Tournament. Houston is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since it went on to lose the 1984 championship game.
- Get more details: Houston vs Kentucky NCAAB Tournament Match-up
Houston at Kentucky Prediction 03/28/2019
Kentucky is favored on Friday, as this will be their biggest test of the tournament thus far. We’re going to pick the upset and pick Houston to advance to the Elite Eight.
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