Houston vs. Virginia Prediction: Can Virginia Prove Themselves After Opening Night Slip-Up?
Tonight's meeting between the Virginia Cavaliers and Houston Cougars is the only one on Tuesday's slate between two teams ranked in the season's initial top 25. The Cavaliers had an opening night slip-up against Navy but still have aspirations of winning an ACC title. Will Virginia prove they were worthy of their preseason ranking and win a big road non-conference game? Or will Houston continue to show signs that this year's team is as capable of returning to the Final Four?
Houston vs. Virginia Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds
Date: Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Game Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Where To Watch: ESPN
Houston vs. Virginia Prediction
Virginia overcame their stunning opening-night loss with a convincing 21-point win over Radford. The Cavaliers got back to what has made them so successful in the Tony Bennett era, holding the Highlanders to 37.7% shooting from the floor and 30.0% from 3-point range. In addition, the Cavaliers were active in the passing lanes and forced 15 turnovers that led to 19 points. However, the more positive sign for Bennett was a much cleaner offensive game, as transfers Armaan Franklin (Indiana) and Jayden Gardner (ECU) combined for 39 points.
The Houston Cougars lost two of their most essential pieces from last year's Final Four squad, with the graduation of DeJon Jarreau and the departure of Quentin Grimes to the NBA. Through the first two games, junior guard Marcus Sasser has taken over the scoring load for this team, averaging 25.5 PPG. Sasser has made 44% of his 3-point attempts this season while getting others involved with 16 assists. Senior transfer Kyler Edwards has chipped in 14.0 PPG this season, as he and Sasser form one of the more underrated backcourts in the country.
While Houston rolled to a 33-point victory in their last game against Rice, they almost topped Virginia with a shocking upset of their own in the first game. Instead, the Cougars rallied from a ten-point second-half deficit to beat Hofstra by eight.
Houston's strength, in theory, plays right into Virginia's hands, as Cavaliers point guard Kihei Clark is one of the most disruptive on-ball defenders in the country. However, at 5'9", he does not have the size to bother the 6'2" Sasser's jump shooting.
Virginia's offense will be very much a work-in-progress in the early part of the season, as Franklin and Gardner continue to develop in their roles. Thus, that makes facing a Cougars defense that ranks seventh in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom) on the road an arduous task.
Houston's Kelvin Sampson is one of the few coaches on par with Tony Bennett from a defensive perspective. The difference in this game will be Houston's efficient offense and their ability to space the floor and create their own shots much better than Virginia can at this stage of the season.
Houston is 12-5 ATS in their last 17 home games, while Virginia has covered the spread in just two of their last nine games dating back to last season. Look for the Cougars to secure an early-season statement win.