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Picks, predictions for No. 4 Houston vs. No. 8 Kansas on Saturday, Feb. 3

The Cougars will head up to Lawrence for a big-time, top 10 showdown against the Jayhawks on Saturday.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 29 Houston at Texas Photo by David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Two Big 12 powers will clash at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday as the No. 4 Houston Cougars hit the road to battle the No. 8 Kansas Jayhawks. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. ET and the game will air on ESPN.

Houston (19-2, 6-2 Big 12) has won five straight heading into this contest and just survived a 76-72 overtime affair at Texas on Monday. The Cougars were able to gain the edge in OT and a pair of Emanuel Sharp free throws with one second left effectively sealed the game. Jamal Shead dropped 25 points and eight rebounds in the win.

Kansas (17-4, 5-3 Big 12) bounced back from last weekend’s loss at Iowa State by obliterating Oklahoma State in an 83-54 drubbing on Tuesday. The Jayhawks were never in danger as they led for the entire evening and held the Cowboys to just 29.3% shooting. Hunter Dickinson had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the rout. Senior swingman Kevin McCullar missed the game for the Jayhawks with a bone bruise, and he’s listed as questionable as of now.

This top 10 battle will most likely be decided on the defensive ends of the floor, especially considering that Houston boasts the top defense in the country per KenPom. The Cougars rank No. 1 in several defensive categories including effective shooting at 41.6%, which will come in handy against a Jayhawk team shooting 56%. KU is no slouch as its holding opponents to just 44.4% shooting from two, a good stat to have against a UH team that isn’t particularly shooting well from two.

What this game means for Houston

Outside of a few stumbles, Houston has not been phased by the jump to the Big 12 and currently finds itself atop the league standings. The Cougars are currently tied with UConn and Purdue for the best record in Quad 1 games at 7-2 and its games like these that determines who gets the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. UH could give a tremendous boost to its already strong resume with a win here.

What this game means for Kansas

KU has also been fighting through a tough Big 12 slate and its three losses in league play have come within single digits. The Jayhawks need a win here to keep pace near the top of the conference standings and avoid falling back towards the pack. Fortunately for them, they have yet to lose at Allen Fieldhouse this year and would love to keep it that way.

Houston vs. Kansas odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Houston -1
Total: 134.5
Moneyline: Houston -122, Kansas +102

Pick: Under 134.5