Sophomore guard Marcus Sasser led Houston to a six point victory over the Oregon State Beavers in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night! Sasser notched 20 points while hitting 5 out of 13 shots from three point land which helped send the Cougars to their first Final Four since 1984! Although many hoops fans think that Houston is not as good as their 28-3 overall record, here are three reasons why Houston could win the NCAA Tournament.
- Kelvin Sampson has the Edge in Coaching Experience
There is no substitute for experience, especially when it comes to March Madness and the Big Dance! The Cougars are set to face #1 seed Baylor in the semifinals. Even though the Bears are more battle tested, Houston has the edge in the coaching department because of Sampson’s vast amount of NCAA Tournament experience.
Sampson led the Oklahoma Sooners to the Final Four 19 years ago and he has coached in the Big Dance 17 times (msn.com). Baylor, on the other hand, has not made a Final Four appearance since way back in 1950! Sampson will be able to keep his Cougars team in a calm but confident frame of mind against Baylor which is a huge advantage.
- The Coogs Easier Schedule is an Advantage
Sure, Houston has had a fairly easy schedule all season long as evidenced by their 90th ranked strength of schedule (usatoday.com). However, this is not the Cougars fault as all a team can do is play the schedule that they are dealt at the beginning of the season. While some sports talking heads may tell you that the Cougars lack of fierce competition is a weakness, that could actually be looked at as a strength.
Think about it, Houston has not been beaten up by a brutal conference schedule like Baylor has. Most of the Cougars’ games have been rocking chair type of wins. Baylor has had to deal with conference foes all year like Kansas, Oklahoma State, and Texas. The Coogs have fresh legs and that will be a huge key for them down the stretch against the Bears.
- Houston Plays Championship Defense
Remember that old saying, “Offense wins games but defense wins Championships”? Regardless of if you think Houston deserves to be in the Final Four or not, you have to admit that this team plays Championship caliber defense! In fact, the Cougars rank 2nd in the entire country in scoring defense as they only allow 57.5 points per game (NCAA.com).
This high level of defensive play has bailed Houston out of many poor shooting performances. We can bet that coach Sampson will have the Houston defenders playing with an ungodly amount of intensity. Houston makes their opponents lives’ miserable on offense and Baylor, though supremely talented, will have a tough time scoring.
So, how will Houston do against Baylor? Multiple sportsbooks have installed Baylor as a 5-point favorite in the contest. Will Sampson’s coaching experience and Houston’s stingy defense be enough to pull the outright upset? Hoops fans will have to wait until Saturday night to find out!