Houston Basketball, we have a buzzer-beater.
JAMAL SHEAD MAJOR ONIONS pic.twitter.com/dJafk05zbw
— The Field of 68 (@TheFieldOf68) March 5, 2023
Capping off one of the best regular seasons in program history, senior guard Jamal Shead drained a contested buzzer-beater as the top-ranked University of Houston basketball team held off the surging Memphis Tigers. At 26-2 (17-1 in AAC play), the Cougars have more or less locked up the No. 1 overall seed in March Madness, barring a stunning upset in this week’s American Athletic Conference Tournament.
Although Houston hasn’t received the same amount of hype or attention as other top teams like Alabama or Purdue, they’re the consensus top team by any metric. Beyond being ranked No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches Polls, they’re also the top dog according to more esoteric advanced metrics. KenPom, Barttorvik, Evan Miya, NET, and BPI are in agreement: Houston is the team to beat.
After making the Final Four in 2021 and the Elite Eight in 2022, this could be the year that Houston finally breaks through and wins their first national championship. Led by dynamic senior guards Marcus Sasser and Jamal Shead, the Cougars are the only team with both a top 10 offense and defense, according to KenPom.
What’s more, Houston is not merely some collection of upperclassmen hardos; freshman sensation Jarace Walker is a surefire lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
For Memphis, this loss represents a major missed opportunity as they try to improve their resume ahead of March Madness. Although the 23-7 Tigers are all but guaranteed a bid, a win against Houston would be a major boon that could’ve potentially vaulted them up the S-Curve.