Kentucky vs Houston : The Wildcats make a ton of free throws, and again, Houston loves to foul. The disparity on the line will be the difference late for UK, but both defenses will make this ugly for long stretches. The Kentucky Wildcats and Houston Cougars are set to face off with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line. The Kentucky Wildcats and Houston Cougars will meet for a chance to go to the Elite Eight and we broke down the betting line, prediction and pick.
Kentucky vs Houston Live Stream: How to Watch NCAAM Basketball 2019 Online Free HD TV Coverage
Washington’s return adds a viable post presence to Kentucky’s repertoire, which was desperately needed during stretches of their second round outing against Wofford. While graduate transfer Reid Travis has soundly carried his own weight (and then some), two is always better than one.
Speaking of offense, Kentucky will need to play their most efficient game of the season against Houston. The Cougars boast the top-overall field goal defense, top-overall three-point field goal defense rank, and the seventh-ranked scoring defense.
While some of the numbers could be considered inflated against lesser competition during the regular season, Houston is indeed “for real” and will more than pressure Kentucky. They’ve held their two tournament opponents to an average of 57 points per game while scoring an average of 79 PPG.
The Cougars don’t rank in the Top-50 when compiling blocks or steals, which reflects the fact that they simply force their opponents into difficult shots for the full 40-minute outing.
This will require another gem from Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans, who is coming off his best game in months. With Houston rostering just one player over 6-8, Kentucky’s size in the painted area should be a significant advantage in both scoring around the basket and in opening driving lanes for Hagans as well as other facilitators like Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro.
In terms of advanced analytics, these two teams are about as close as you’ll see in any Sweet 16 game. Kentucky currently ranks seventh overall in KenPom efficiency, thanks in large part to their eighth-ranked defense. The offense isn’t far behind at 11th overall, but it clearly wasn’t the same in Jacksonville when Washington wasn’t playing.
As for the Cougars, they rank 12th overall on the strength of their 12th-ranked defense. They’re actually the top team in the nation in terms of opponent effective field-goal percentage. They rank fifth in opponent two-point percentage and first in opponent three-point percentage.
The one knock on Houston is they have just one win over a KenPom top-25 team (LSU) and one away from their home arena, though they do sport victories over Oregon (29), Cincinnati twice (30) and UCF (34).
Kentucky certainly has some advantages in this game, but nothing comes easy during this point of the tournament. Friday night is fully-expected to be an all-out grind.
PJ Washington took his turn in front of the cameras Thursday.
In Washington’s first public comments since spraining his left foot in the SEC Tournament, his every word and movement would be dissected in an effort to determine if the sophomore forward will be ready to return in time to play in Kentucky’s Sweet 16 game against Houston.
So, when Washington appeared to grimace in discomfort while surrounded by the dozens of reporters huddled around his locker before the Wildcats’ pre-Sweet 16 practice, it was easy to leap to the wrong conclusion.
The cast is off, as Kentucky Wildcats forward PJ Washington appears to be set to return .The Wildcats managed to get past both of their opening and second round opponents without Washington, but should be grateful to have him back in time for the Sweet 16.
On Friday evening, Kentucky will lace up their Nike high-tops against the Houston Cougars, a non-power five school that has emerged as one of the better programs in the country. The Cougars probably aren’t a team the average fan is very familiar with, but are most certainly a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court.