Houston Looks to Cool Off Hot-Shooting Duke in NCAA Sweet 16

Duke vs Houston Expert Picks: Cougars Climb to 4-Point Favorites

While continuing its quest for an elusive national championship, No. 1 seed Houston faces No. 4 seed Duke in the Sweet 16 on Friday (9:39 p.m. ET) at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The winner will advance to the West Regional final to face either No. 2 Tennessee or No. 3 Creighton.

Uncover Exclusive Picks & Predictions From Our Experts.

After opening at -3, Houston is now up to a 4-point favorite at -108 odds and -192 on the moneyline. Conversely, Duke is +160 to win outright. Meanwhile, the projected total has grown from 133.5 to 134.5, with a slight edge to the Under at -112 odds.

What can bettors expect? Read on as we break down both NCAAB teams and give our Duke vs Houston expert pick.

NCAA Sweet 16: West Region

Cougars logo Cougars vs Blue Devils Blue Devils logo

Day/Time:
Location: American Airlines Center; Dallas
Streaming: CBS

Duke vs Houston Betting Trends

The Duke Blue Devils are 20-13-1 ATS, including 10-3 over their last 13 games. A majority of Duke’s games have trended toward the Under, as the Blue Devils are just 14-20 against the Over/Under. Meanwhile, the Houston Cougars are 18-17-1 ATS, including 4-2 over their last six games. As for the Over/Under, Houston is 16-20.

Be sure to remember these trends when assessing our Duke vs Houston expert pick.

McCain’s Shooting Surge Fuels Duke

Duke is on to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons after routing 12th-seeded James Madison 93-55. The Blue Devils — seeded fourth in the East Region and favored by 6.0 points — got 30 points from Jared McCain to put a convincing end to the nation’s longest winning streak at 14 games.

McCain hit a program NCAA Tournament record eight 3-pointers as the Blue Devils improved to 26-8 and covered the spread for the fifth time in seven games.

This marks Duke’s 27th trip to the second weekend in 39 tries since the NCAA Tournament bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

In the last 30 years, Duke is 0-5 in the tournament against higher seeds. Despite that, it has managed to win three national titles and make three other Final Four appearances during that span.

Oddsmakers are somewhat skeptical of the Blue Devils’ ability to get back there, pricing Jon Scheyer’s team +380 to win the West Region and +2200 to win the national championship. At the moment, eight schools have better title odds.

Boasting the nation’s fifth-most efficient offense, Duke tends to generate much of its scoring from the perimeter. The Blue Devils are shooting 38.1% from the perimeter (tied for 11th in Division I), led by McCain and Jeremy Roach, who missed a portion of the second-round win with a dislocated pinky.

The Blue Devils — No. 5 in KenPom, No. 10 in NET — have two ranked wins this NCAAB season, both of which came during non-conference play. Keep that in mind when analyzing our Duke vs Houston expert pick.

Survive and Advance

Houston is making its fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance after outlasting ninth-seeded Texas A&M 100-95 in overtime. The top-seeded Cougars — 8.5-point favorites — survived after blowing an eight-point lead in the final minute of regulation. Emanuel Sharp finished with a game-high 30 points while Jamal Shead scored 21.

The 95 points allowed were easily a season high by the Cougars, the nation’s top-scoring defensive team (57.7 PPG allowed). It was enough to drop them from first to second in defensive efficiency, though the Cougars are still rated second overall by KenPom and first in the NET.

Houston (32-4) improved to 8-2 all-time as a No. 1 seed and has now won at least 32 NCAAB games for the fifth time. Outside of UConn, the reigning national champion and top overall seed, Houston remains the biggest favorite to win the NCAA title.

In fact, the Cougars are listed +500 to cut down the nets next month in Phoenix, ahead of other No. 1 seeds Purdue (+650) and North Carolina (+1100).

Ranking 14th in offensive efficiency, the Cougars have a trio of high-level guards in Sharp, Shead and L.J. Cryer, the Baylor transfer and teams’ top scorer (15.5 PPG).

Unlike Duke, they tend to do most of their scoring from inside the arc. They have outscored opponents by an average of 16.4 points, third-most in Division I behind only McNeese State (17.7) and UConn (17.6).

Houston has been favored in every game this season, including 20 times by double digits. Despite its sterling record, Houston is a modest 18-17-1 ATS.

For March Madness picks, betting odds, analysis and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.


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