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No. 5 Houston vs. No. 12 UAB: Preview, picks for first round of 2022 NCAA Tournament

The Houston Cougars and UAB Blazers meet at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

The first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament continues on Friday with a South region matchup at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh between the No. 5 Houston Cougars and the No. 12 UAB Blazers. The game will tip off at 9:20 p.m. ET on TNT.

No. 5 Houston: 29-5 (15-3 AAC): Auto Bid

KenPom rating: 5 Overall, 10 Offense, 11 Defense
NET ranking: 3, (1-4 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Kyler Edwards (13.6 ppg)
Key stat: Houston has limited opponents to just 43.5% shooting from two.

Houston is fresh off a second-straight AAC Tournament title and is beginning its march to what it hopes to be a second-straight trip to the Final Four. Outside of a few hiccups, the Cougars mostly ran roughshod over league competition even without Marcus Sasser in the lineup.

Houston has been one of the best teams in the country in defending the three and will have to do so against a UAB team shooting 38.4%.

No. 12 UAB: 27-7 (14-4 C-USA): At-large

KenPom rating: 50 Overall, 28 Offense, 87 Defense
NET ranking: 46 (2-1 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Jordan Walker (20.4 ppg)
Key stat: UAB is shooting 38.4% from three, good for sixth in the nation.

UAB comes barreling into the tournament following an impressive three-game run through the Conference USA Tournament last week to reach the big dance. The Blazers handled their business in league play in mostly big fashion, winning several games by double digits.

UAB will have to up its tempo on offense a bit if it wants to keep pace with the Cougars.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Houston -8.5
Point total: 136
Moneyline: Houston -400, UAB +300

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Houston -8.5
Point total pick: Over 136
Pick to Win: Houston

This has the makings of a game that’s still relatively close with less than 10 minutes left before the favorite gradually pulls away. Go with the Cougars here.

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