Memphis vs. Houston: Prediction, pick, odds, line, point spread, basketball game, tipoff time, preview

Fresh off a 33-point pummeling of Tulsa on Feb. 19, No. 21 Houston was seemingly a lock for the AAC championship. But Memphis changed that three days later by beating the Cougars 60-59 at home. Now Houston, which hasn’t won consecutive conference championships since 1984-85, has a shot at revenge and at accomplishing that very feat Sunday.

Houston (22-8, 12-5 AAC) followed a convincing win (68-55 over Cincinnati on March 1) with a come-down loss (71-77 to UConn on Thursday) over its last couple games after doing so against Tulsa and Memphis right before. It needs to find consistency against a Memphis (21-9, 10-7) team that’s had anything but this season, facing NCAA violations and the abrupt departure of standout center James Wiseman.  

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Houston: The Cougs are giving Caleb Mills the green light to shoot – at least 14 attempts per game over the last four – and the explosive sixth man is taking advantage. Mills scored 20 or more in three of those contests, including a 27-point outburst against Tulsa. Houston needs Mills to stay hot against a Memphis team with daunting defensive numbers: 36% field-goal defense, No. 1 in AAC; 28% 3-point defense, also tops in the AAC.

Memphis: The Tigers’ success relies primarily on Precious Achiuwa’s shoulders. Achiuwa’s averaging 17.4 points and 12.6 rebounds over the last five games, carrying Memphis to a 4-1 record over that stretch. He’s hitting another level while already on a torrid pace: his 10.6 rebounds per game lead the AAC, while his per-game averages of 1.9 blocks and 15.5 points rank third and fifth in the conference, respectively. The only team to stop the seemingly unstoppable force in Achiuwa? Houston, which held him to 10 points – on 1-of-9 shooting from the field – and six rebounds the last time they met.

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Game prediction, pick 

Latest odds via SportsLine: Houston -9.5            

Pick: Houston could be playing for a share of the AAC title, depending on if Tulsa wins later in the day. But Memphis is playing for its life. The Tigers need a strong finish if they have any hope at claiming an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. A win at Houston would bring Memphis to 3-5 in Quadrant 1 games. Hard to predict that the Tigers will come out on top. But they’ll certainly play with enough urgency to cover the spread. Pick: Memphis +9.5 (David Cobb)

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