Houston Cougars

3 Big Reasons the Houston Cougars could win the 2023 NCAA National Championship

As one of the top teams in the NCAA Tournament, the Houston Cougars are having a season to remember under head coach Kelvin Sampson.

For a school that is often known for its prowess on the football field, the hoopsters have positioned themselves for success in March Madness. Sampson has assembled a stacked squad that could be headed to hoops heaven soon.

Why the Houston Cougars Can Win it All

Houston (31-3, American Athletic Conference regular season champions) will enter the tourney as the number-one seed in the Midwest Region.

This team has been a deadly force on the floor during the 2022-2023 campaign. Despite losing their conference tournament final against rival Memphis, Houston looks strong heading into the first weekend of play. Their offensive firepower ranks them among the most deadly teams in the nation, and they have a battle-tested leader in coach Kelvin Sampson stalking the sidelines.

So? Can the Cougars pounce all over the postseason’s most prestigious prize and capture the school’s first-ever National Title? By all accounts, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes’. And here are three huge reasons why:

#1 – Depth and talent wins during March Madness, and the Houston Cougars have plenty of both

Houston is one of the most physically gifted teams in the entire country, and they can score points on you quickly. Guard Marcus Sasser led the team with 17.1 points per game this season, but the Cats can beat you in more ways than one.

Emotional leader Jamal Shead is a force on both ends of the floor, as the point guard led the team in both assists and steals. Versatile forward Jarace Walker provides scoring (11.1 ppg) and goes on scoring spurts where he looks like a superstar. Tough forward J’Wan Roberts paced the team with 7.8 rebounds a game, and Tramon Mark chipped in 9.7 ppg, as well.

Add in a deep bench and it’s easy to see that Houston could play any style and match up well with anyone, provided all their weapons are firing together.

#2 – Coach Kelvin Sampson knows how to implement the perfect gameplan for this team

The Cougars averaged 75.0 ppg on the offensive side of the floor and have lots of ways they can beat you. As stated, Sasser is the leader in scoring and was banged up at the end of the AAC Tourney. He missed the title game, and that’s likely what handed the Memphis Tigers the win.

However, Sasser will reportedly be back on the court in time for this weekend’s opener against number-16 seed Northern Kentucky. So, Coach Kelvin Sampson should have a full arsenal at his disposal.

Sampson was known for having some high-scoring, successful squads as the Oklahoma Sooners coach. However, his later stint in Indiana didn’t quite go as planned. He’s still one of the best minds in the game of college hoops, but Sampson has yet to capture a National Championship. He and his guys could right that wrong in 2023.

#3 – Houston has beaten better competition than most critics give them credit for

As mentioned previously, the Cougars don’t play in a glamorous conference like the Big 12 or ACC. And while the American Athletic may not have as big a trophy case as some of the big boys, they can boast of some great, traditional programs and explosive athletes currently.

However, one could argue that conference rival Memphis is one team that NO ONE wants to face in the NCAA Tourney, and fellow AAC opponent Cincinnati is a perennial power, as well.

As far as non-conference wins, they had a 10-point victory over Oregon early in the season, and a 69-61 over Virginia. They had a tight battle with top overall seed Alabama, losing down the stretch by just six points.

Houston has proven they have the talent, depth, and coaching to be in the mix for the National Championship. For those who remember the days of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Phi Slamma Jamma, the university finally capturing its first-ever crown would be somewhat sentimental, and the team has been a bit of an emotional pick anyway. Coach Sampson’s sister sadly passed away just last week, and the team has rallied around the tragedy, adding more passion to this push.

OUTLOOK: Houston was the number-one ranked team in the Top 25, and they have had a big target on their backs. Particularly during conference play, where they are now considered the bully on the block. Even with all those obstacles, they have navigated through the season with only three losses, and Sampson is a proven sideline strategist. Anything short of a Final Four appearance by this squad will be considered a major letdown. And despite Alabama’s status as the top overall seed, it’s also very easy to consider UH the favorite to win it all.

Main Image: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY

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