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No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 5 Houston preview, picks for second round of 2022 NCAA Tournament

The Arizona Wildcats and Houston Cougars meet at the AT&T Center in the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Christian Koloko #35 and Bennedict Mathurin #0 of the Arizona Wildcats compete for position with Eddie Lampkin #4 of the TCU Horned Frogs during the first half in the second round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Viejas Arena at San Diego State University on March 20, 2022 in San Diego, California. Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

One of the Sweet 16 matchups in the South region has been set for Thursday, March 24 as the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats will face the No. 5 Houston Cougars. The Wildcats are coming off a close 85-80 victory over No. 9 TCU. The Cougars took down No. 12 UAB 82-68 in the first round and followed it up with a 68-53 win over No. 4 Illinois in the second round.

Tipoff is tentatively scheduled for 10:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 24th at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The tipoff time is tentative due to the No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 11 Michigan game before it. The game will air on TBS.

No. 1 Arizona 33-3 (18-2 Pac-12)

First Round: Defeated No. 16 Wright State 87-70
Second Round: Defeated No. 9 TCU 85-80 (OT)
KenPom rating: 3 Overall, 7 Offense, 19 Defense
Leading scorer: Bennedict Mathurin (17.4 ppg)
Key stat of tournament: Arizona has scored 70+ points in its last 16 victories.

Arizona emerged victorious in a wild overtime matchup that ended early Monday morning for east coast viewers. Pac-12 Player of the Year Bennedict Mathurin came up huge in the clutch, firing off the game-tying three that sent it into overtime and scoring a bulk of the Wildcats’ points in OT.

The Wildcats are one of the best shooting teams in the country. They are hitting 57.6% of their two-point attempts while also limiting their opponents to 41.7% shooting from two.

No. 5 Houston 29-5 (15-3 AAC)

First Round: Defeated No. 12 UAB 82-68
Second Round: Defeated No. 4 Illinois 68-53
KenPom rating: 5 Overall, 10 Offense, 11 Defense
Leading scorer: Kyler Edwards (13.6 ppg)
Key stat: Houston has limited opponents to just 43.5% shooting from two.

The Houston backcourt rolled over Illinois in the second round. Guards Jamal Shead, Kyler Edwards and Taze Moore combined for 54 of Houston’s 68 points. Edwards scored 15 points and added six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Houston forced 17 turnovers showing their defense is nothing to look passed.

The Cougars are going to need to dominate the boards, as they bring in 37.7% of their potential offensive rebounds, the third-most among Division 1 teams.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Arizona -1.5
Point total: 145
Moneyline: Houston +105, Arizona -125

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Houston +1.5
Point total pick: Under 145
Pick to Win: Houston

The Cougars are living and dying by their defense, and it has brought them to the Sweet Sixteen. Arizona had a close call in the second round and needed OT to get the job done. Houston is a dangerous blend of great play from 1-5. The back court guards hold down the offense and can shoot with the best of them. The front court is there to clean up the boards and provide the defensive backbone needed to reach the Elite Eight.

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