What Are Houston's National Championship Odds?

Looking atop the National Champion odds on the FanDuel Sportsbook, you’ll see the typical names you’d expect as the favorites. Blue bloods such as Kentucky, North Carolina, and UCLA all sit as contenders to cut down the nets in April.

But a program that hasn’t seen this height of the national spotlight in decades tops the list this year. The Houston Cougars are the betting favorite to win college basketball’s national championship.

Here’s a look at Houston’s chances and odds @ FanDuel:

College Basketball National Championship Winner +850

The Cougars are littered with talent at every position. Marcus Sasser is a three-level scorer that can pour it in and will contend for the Naismith Player of the Year award this season.

Jamal Shead and Tramon Mark provide further dynamism at the guard position, something you can never have enough of come tournament time. Add in five-star freshman Jarace Walker to the frontcourt, and Houston’s starting five can get after you from all over the court.

There’s one attribute that this Houston team has that is rare in today’s world of transfers and NBA early entries, and it’s a plethora of players returning to the program. Among the 12 players expected to be within Houston’s rotation, eight of them played meaningful minutes last season.

Head coach Kelvin Sampson has shown time and time again that he has the coaching chops to go toe-to-toe with any other coach in the nation. He has built a powerhouse at Houston that boasts an awesome home-court advantage at the Fertitta Center.

AAC Conference Winner -370

Although it’s likely just a two-horse race, Memphis is enough of a contender within the AAC to bet the Cougs at this steep price. Houston is rightfully the heavy favorite, but with the Tigers lurking as a top-30 KenPom team, this isn’t a price you should feel comfortable laying.

KenPom Offensive Rating: 10th

Houston isn’t usually known for strong shooting, but they frustrate and tire opposing defenses with relentless offensive rebounding. Crashing the boards on the offensive glass is a staple of Sampson’s coaching principles, and you can count on his team getting second and third chances.

It frees up the offense to not have to be so selective and efficient with the ball, as they’ll work to get more opportunities before getting back on defense. As previously mentioned, there are also gobs of talent in this backcourt that can help elevate this ranking.

KenPom Defensive Rating: 2nd

Defense is Sampson’s bread and butter. This team will grind you out for all 40 minutes and make every shot you take as difficult as possible. The Cougars have ranked seventh, sixth, and fifth in two-point percentage allowed over the past three seasons.

Expect more of the same in 2022-23 from this squad. Walker will also guard the paint, a high-motor big with shot-altering and blocking ability that gives Houston a strong presence down low.

2021-22 Record: 32-6; ATS: 25-13

Houston was an absolute wagon in the betting market a season ago. They covered the spread at the eighth-highest rate in the entire nation out of 358 teams, as the market seemed to constantly undervalue their ability to steamroll opponents.

With them favored to win the national championship this season, that ship may have sailed, and it will be worth keeping an eye on how the betting market values the Cougars in their early-season tests. They’ll take on Virginia, Alabama, and Oregon throughout their non-conference schedule.

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