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No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 2 Houston preview, picks for Sweet 16 round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Syracuse Orange and Houston Cougars are set to meet at Hinkle Fieldhouse for the Sweet 16 round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Houston Cougars guard Quentin Grimes warms up before a game against the South Florida Bulls at Fertitta Center. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Update: Saturday, March 27 9:45 a.m. Here are the updated bet splits from DraftKings Sportsbook for Syracuse vs. Houston:

Syracuse: +6.5 (71% of handle, 71% of bets)
Houston: -6.5 (29% of handle, 29% of bets)


There have already been a fair amount of upsets in this year’s NCAA tournament, and there will be some unexpected pairings in the Sweet 16. The No. 11 Syracuse Orange managed to knock off No. 3 West Virginia on Monday, and will face the No. 2 Houston Cougars in the Sweet 16. The Cougars barely got by No. 10 Rutgers in the second round, but made a 14-2 run late take the lead and advance.

The game will tip-off on Saturday, March 27th at 9:55 p.m. in at Hinkle Fieldhouse, and will be broadcast on TBS.

No. 11 Syracuse 18-9 (9-7 ACC)

First Round: Defeated No. 6 San Diego State 78-62
Second Round: Defeated No. 3 West Virginia 75-72
KenPom rating: 39 Overall, 15 Offense, 86 Defense
NET ranking: 40 (3-7 vs Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Buddy Boeheim (17.7 ppg)
Key stat: Syracuse is 29-58 from three-point range in the NCAA Tournament.

Syracuse manhandled No. 6 San Diego State in the opening round, and Buddy Boeheim scored 30 in the Orange’s 78-62 win. He kept his hot shooting going in the round of 32 by dropping a game-high 25 against West Virginia.

The Orange have been unconscious shooting the basketball so far. They’ve converted over 50% of their field goals in both the games they’ve played so far while also converting 50% of their threes.

Boeheim's matchup against Houston’s Quentin Grimes will be big in this game, as both wings are the top scoring option for their respective teams. How the Syracuse 2-3 zone contains Grimes should be key to determining the winner

No. 2 Houston 26-3 (14-3 AAC)

First Round: Defeated No. 15 Cleveland State 87-56
Second Round: Defeated No. 10 Rutgers 63-60
KenPom rating: 5 Overall, 7 Offense, 12 Defense
NET ranking: 5 (2-1 vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Quentin Grimes (18 ppg)
Key stat: Houston is one of the best rebounding teams in the country and averages 41.1 rebounds per game.

Houston took care of business against No. 6 San Diego State but trailed against Rutgers until the very end. The Cougars faced a 3-point deficit at the break and surged in the second half turn the tide to win 63-60.

Houston typically controls the glass and won the battle on the boards by 10 against Scarlet Knights. Utilizing their strength and physicality inside will be key to taking down an elite shooting team like Syracuse. It will also be interesting to see how a team that doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well from long-range (35.2% as a team) chooses to attack the Orange.

What the Coogs do better as well as anyone is defend: They hold opponents to a 43.3 eFG%, which is the best in Division I, and only 29.3% of opponents three-pointers convert. But that’s mostly against a softer schedule in the American Conference than they’ll see on Saturday.

Justin Gorham leads all players with 8.8 rebounds per game, and his battle against Quincy Guerrier down low could determine which team comes out on top.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Houston -7
Total: 139.5
Moneyline: Houston -315, Syracuse +255

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Syracuse +7
Point total pick: O139.5
Pick to Win: Syracuse

Syracuse’s first-round win against San Diego State was an eye-opener, and its second-round win over West Virginia was even more impressive. The Orange have produced ridiculous shooting splits behind Boeheim, who has arguably been the best player in the tournament so far. The Cougars made the same amount of field goals (22) as Rutgers on Sunday, so a three-point shooting team like Syracuse is a threat to pull ahead by getting extra points on triples. The Scarlet Knights connected on 43.8% of their threes against Houston, and the step up in class might make those closeouts even tougher.

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