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Houston basketball beats Memphis, strengthens case for top seed

The University of Houston men’s basketball team continued to assert itself as the best team in the country Sunday, toppling a Memphis team that ranked second in the American Athletic Conference and in the top-50 nationally in terms of NET Rankings .

Houston overcame a slow start on the offensive end with a sturdy defensive effort that included 18 forced turnovers, as the Cougars never trailed in a 72-64 win at the Fertitta Center. Veterans J’Wan Roberts and Marcus Sasser each amassed 20 points, with Roberts grabbing a season-high 12 rebounds in a win that could prove to have major NCAA Tournament implications.

Three weeks before pick Sunday, the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee revealed its top 16 seeds for the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Saturday. 1 in the country according to KenPom and NET Rankings, the Cougars finished as No. 2 behind the team that tops both major polls.

Alabama was the top seed overall, with Purdue and Kansas trailing Houston as the other predicted No. 1 seeds. In addition to UH, Texas (No. 5) and Baylor (No. 7) represented the Lone Star State in Saturday’s reveal.

A 71-65 victory over the Cougars in Houston on December 10 was noted as one of the deciding factors that gave Alabama a lead in the projection of the #1 seed. That lead will stand for the Crimson Tide, regardless of what it will happen on the home stretch of the regular season. But for Houston, Sunday’s victory over Memphis provides them with a metrics boost, something that could be critical if Alabama suffers setbacks or another top contender catches fire in the coming weeks.

Coupled with the head-to-head win over the Cougars, Alabama’s record in Quad 1 (7-4) and Quad 2 (7-0) games is a factor in pulling the committee. Houston is now 4-1 and 8-0 in those contests, respectively, following a Quad 2 victory over Memphis. Wednesday’s home game against Tulane could also potentially move into Quad 2 territory, while Houston’s regular season finale in Memphis on March 5 is shaping up to be an opportunity for a Quad 1 win.

Quadrant rankings are determined by an opponent’s position and NET ranking, as noted below. Quad 1 wins are considered heavily by the selection committee, as are losses from Quad 3 and 4.

Quad 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75Quad 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135Quad 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240Quad 4 : Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353

The Cougars lost a Quad 3, coming at home last month to Temple. Though outside of that loss, their tournament résumé is nearly unmatched. Houston is the only undefeated team in the nation on the road at 9-0 and will have two more opportunities, including a likely Quad 1 game against the Tigers, to add wins away from the Fertitta Center ahead of the AAC tournament.

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