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NCAA Tournament: Are the Houston Cougars the team to beat?

Houston enters the NCAA Tournament with the best odds to win the national championship, but will Marcus Sasser's injury be there downfall?

HOUSTON — The 2023 NCAA Tournament field was revealed on Sunday, with the Alabama Crimson Tide securing the number one overall seed after winning the SEC Tournament.

The Houston Cougars were the second number one seed, earning the distinction of playing in the Midwest region over Kansas despite losing their conference championship game to Memphis - and playing without star guard Marcus Sasser who suffered a groin injury on Saturday against Cincinnati.

However, Houston still enters the NCAA Tournament with the best odds to win it all, per FanDuel, and Locked on Coogs host Parker Ainsworth joins Peter Bukowski of Locked on Sports Today to discuss what makes this team so tough.

"They lead with their defense, and defense travels," Ainsworth said. "Even in their tough offensive games, they are holding teams to well below their scoring standards...Of the 23 teams they played this year, nine were held to their season-low in scoring."

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Ainsworth believes this team has a great chance of getting to Houston, where the Final 4 is located, and playing for a national championship in your home city is a huge advantage for Kelvin Sampson's team.

The injury to Sasser looms large, however, with no current update on if he will suit up for the Coogs first round game. A second round matchup against nine seed Auburn - if they are able to get past Iowa - could present a hiccup as well, with the Tigers playing in Birmingham in front of a home crowd.

The 2021 run to the Final 4 felt a little bit like the Cougars were just happy to be there, but expectations are much higher this season. Sampson's hard-nosed defensive squad has proven they are up for the task.

Catch the full conversation on Monday's Locked On Sports Today podcast

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