Fred Faour: Seeds of doubt? Not really. UH did what it needed to do

Mar 16, 2023; Birmingham, AL, USA; Houston Cougars guard Emanuel Sharp (21) reacts against the Northern Kentucky Norse during the second half in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at Legacy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Fred Faour: Seeds of doubt? Not really. UH did what it needed to do

It happened to Virginia. It happened to Arizona.

It would not happen to the University of Houston no matter how hard the No. 16 seeded Northern Kentucky Norseman tried.

The Cougars would not let the upsets that always occur in the first round of the NCAA Tournament affect them. They did what a No. 1 seed is supposed to do and knocked off Northern Kentucky 63-52. Only once has a 1 seed lost to a 16. It would not happen to UH this day.

Yes, the Norsemen hung around early. A lot of teams do, but these Cougars wear you down. And they did again Thursday night. Of course, it was close at halftime. But look back on the season – a lot of games were. This was standard Cougar basketball.

The latest Marcus Sasser injury is a concern. He really should not have been playing because the tournament really starts on Saturday.

But it was freshman Emmanuel Sharp – who should be a star next season – who stepped up with a couple of big 3s in the second half and did his best Sasser impersonation.

Looking ahead, the Cougars will face an athletic Auburn team that is sneaky good. UH should win, even without Sasser, but nothing is guaranteed in the tournament moving forward. Every game is a concern, no matter how good you are, no matter how you are seeded. And the Cougars will need to play much better than they have in three of their last four. A win on Thursday, a loss to Memphis, a sloppy AAC win over East Carolina. Only against Cincinnati did they look like the Coogs who earned a No. 1 seed.

But 9 seeds are under 15% against No. 1 seeds, so UH should be OK. Still, are they the same team without Sasser? We might find out. The bracket still plays out well for UH, but there is a long way to go moving forward. Yes, they have a tournament win.

But March Madness really starts on Saturday. Hopefully, the Coogs will be ready.

They were on Thursday. Eventually. But that’s the Cougars. They did what they do.

They will have to do better moving forward. Here’s betting they will.

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