As soon as Houston joined the Big 12, I received a text from a fellow writer saying “Houston’s basketball is the most underrated addition of the four schools.”
And if you think about it— he is correct. Looking at the four new additions of Cincinnati, BYU, UCF and Houston, most people will think of these moves as helping the football part of the conference. With Cincinnati being a top-10 team, and BYU being relevant in recent years.
People however fail to realize the success of the Houston basketball program, and why them joining the Big 12 will make an already incredible basketball conference that much better.
Houston head basketball coach Kelvin Sampson has been at Houston for seven years. In those seven years, Houston is 167-64. Sampson is known for his defensive playing style, will certainly bring a program that is ready to compete in the Big 12.
If you look at just the past four seasons, Houston has a combined 24 losses. Baylor over that same period, has 35 losses, West Virginia has 52 and Kansas has 30.
In that same four year period, Houston has finished inside the AP Top-25 each of those seasons, as well as either going to their conference tournament championship or winning their conference tournament championship in each of those years.
In those seasons as well, Houston was a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2018, No. 3 seed in 2019, and a No. 2 seed in 2021. Houston lost to No. 3 seeded Michigan 64-63 in the second round in 2018, lost 62-58 to No. 2 Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen in 2019, and lost to the eventual National Champion Baylor in the Final Four a season ago.
Houston basketball will not be a pretty brand of basketball. They will grind games out, rebound the ball well, and will just try to be more physical than their opponent. However, this type of physicality and this type of culture will be perfect for the Big 12.
Photo by Missy Minear/Indiana Athletics