Houston Men's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Houston Cougars

American (26-7, 14-4)

Most did not expect Houston to compete with the likes of Cincinnati and Wichita State for an American Athletic Conference title, but they were able to stick around and finish with an impressive 14-4 conference mark. Coach Kelvin Sampson deserves a lot of credit for guiding this team. Three of Houston’s four conference losses came on the road, against Wichita State, Tulane and Cincinnati. After the losses, the Cougars won the return trip against all of those teams and most were in relatively dominating fashion.
Big Wins: 12/2 Arkansas (91-65), 1/20 Wichita State (73-59), 2/15 Cincinnati (67-62)
Bad Losses: 11/17 vs Drexel (80-84), 1/17 at Tulane (72-81), 2/22 at Memphis (85-91)
Coach: Kelvin Sampson
Why They Can Surprise:
Houston’s ability to hit the glass has been one of the big differences between this group and the one that had to settle for the NIT the previous two seasons. Devin Davis, who struggled with injuries in 2017-2018, is the team’s top rebounder with 6.2 per game. Fellow forward Breaon Brady does not play too many minutes, but he is very effective when on the floor. Most of the guards are dangerous in the rebounding department as well and it has become a team effort. Davis is also a very good interior scoring threat, but it is Corey Davis, Jr. and Rob Gray who do most of the scoring. Gray averages 18.6 points per game and adds 4.6 assists and 1.2 steals. Corey Davis is one of the most prolific three-point shooters in the country. He has connected on 44.0 percent of his 232 three-point attempts. Armoni Brooks can knock down the long balls consistently as well.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The concern on offense is that Houston can settle for jump shots too often. If those shots are not falling, Houston needs Gray or Devin Davis to get to the basket and at least get to the charity stripe and try to get a few easy points on the board. However, that is rarely an issue for the Cougars since somebody is usually making shots. It is a little different in the NCAA Tournament though when momentum swings can happen in a hurry. There will be a time when the Cougars need to put a point or two on the board to turn the momentum and that may not be able to happen if they do not work the offense. The other potential concern is foul trouble. This team commits quite a few fouls, but Coach Sampson does have good depth across the board.
Probable Starters:
Galen Robinson, Junior, Guard, 4.8 ppg, 3.9 apg
Rob Gray, Senior, Guard, 18.6 ppg, 4.6 apg
Corey Davis, Junior, Guard, 13.6 ppg, 2.5 apg
Devin Davis, Senior, Forward, 10.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Breaon Brady, Junior, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Key Role Players:
Wes VanBeck, Senior, Guard, 6.2 ppg
Armoni Brooks, Sophomore, Guard, 9.8 ppg
Fabian White, Freshman, Forward, 5.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Nura Zanna, Senior, Forward, 2.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.0 (73rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.2 (24, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.8 (76, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.7 (9, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.9 (72, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.1 (28, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.3 (169, 6)
Rebound Margin: 7.7 (9, 2)
Assists Per Game: 15.4 (72, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (126, 5)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2017    NIT     First Round loss to Akron
2016    NIT     First Round loss to Georgia Tech
2013    CBI     First Round win over Texas
2013    CBI     Quarterfinal loss to George Mason
2010    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Maryland
2009    CBI     First Round loss to Oregon State
2008    CBI     First Round win over Nevada
2008    CBI     Second Round win over Valparaiso
2008    CBI     Semifinal loss to Tulsa
2006    NIT     First Round win over BYU
2006    NIT     Second Round loss to Missouri State
2005    NIT     Opening Round loss to Wichita State
*all team stats through 3/4