2. Houston (12-0)
Undefeated nearly two months into the season, Houston has done what they’ve needed. The faces are different this year, but the defense continues to look elite, with the Cougars rarely allowing even 60 points in games this season. They haven’t played the hardest schedule in the world, with the highlights being wins over Utah, Texas A&M, and Xavier, but the record does not lie.
Houston was never going to be realistically challenged by Texas State or by some of the other teams they’ve seen on their nonconference schedule. Things will be far different after New Year’s, as Houston begins their first conference season as members of the Big 12. This will be a far different animal than recent dominant seasons in the AAC, though obviously the Cougars look like a favorite in their new league in year one. One nonconference game remains and that’s a home date with Penn next Saturday.
After that aforementioned win over Texas A&M last weekend, Houston’s final challenge before Christmas was a home date with Texas State. The Cougars then turned in one of their best defensive performances of the season in a 72-37 win over the Bobcats. Emanuel Sharp had 17 points and 4 steals as the Cougars forced 27 turnovers as a team in the blowout win.