|8 RUTG (-110) @ caesars|
9* Take Rutgers (#815)
Houston is power rated through the roof, a team who’s simply being asked to lay too many points to a quality foe. The AAC was not an exceptionally deep conference this year, in direct contrast to the Big 10. And the Cougs were good right out of the gate in November and December, then feasted on the AAC all season. But when Houston was asked to face a quality, defensive minded foe like Memphis, they didn’t sniff a pointspread cover in a pair of late season meetings.
The results do not lie. Houston blows out weaklings -- like the Cleveland State squad they saw in the first round -- with relative ease. I’ve got them as 12-1 ATS at -10.5 or higher in their last 13 tries. But stepping up in class hasn’t been quite so easy for the Cougs. They’re just 1-3 ATS in the four games where they’ve been favored by -10 or less over the past two months; the lone cover coming at home against SMU in January.
The Big 10 was really, really good this year, and unlike the ACC, it was exceptionally deep. Teams like Rutgers that finished in the middle of the standings were still good enough to beat the likes of Big Dance entrants Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue and Maryland in conference play. Defensively, this team is downright nasty: #1 in the Big 10 in both blocks and steals. This is a veteran team: 80% of their minutes and scoring were back from last year’s team. Expect a battle, not a blowout. Take Rutgers.
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