The Houston Cougars will take on the Syracuse Orange in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night.
The Coogs faced a scare in the Round of 32 and thanks to a collapse by Rutgers, found a way to advance. Syracuse has shocked everybody, winning two games as an underdog to advance to the second weekend of play. As you would imagine, the Orange are the underdog as a double-digit seed. They’re sitting at +6 right now with the point total hovering at 140.5. Syracuse on the moneyline is at +250 while Houston is -200.
No. 2 Houston: 26-3 - 20-9 ATS
November/December: 5-3 ATS
January: 7-1 ATS
February: 5-2 ATS
March: 3-3 ATS
Vs. Total: 15-14 Over
In NCAA Tournament: 1-1 ATS
Houston comes out of a relatively weak American Athletic Conference, but that shouldn't indicate to people that they’re overseeded. The Coogs totally dominated everybody this season save for a few slip-ups here and there. Still, it needs to be noted that during the regular season, they faced just one Top-25 team, defeating Texas Tech back in December.
They’re 1-1 ATS so far in the Tournament, but they do tend to dominate their opponents for the most part. Over the last five games, they’ve beaten teams by double digits three times. They’ve faced a spread of 15 points or more eight times this season and won seven of those contests. They’ve had just three games against Quad 1 opponents in the NCAA NET rankings, but they were 2-1 in those games.
For the point total, the Coogs play one of the slowest paces of basketball in the nation. They’re efficient in scoring, but if a team makes a few stops in a row, it can get UH uncomfortable and force them to press. They’ve had a point total set above 140.5 just twice this season and have split those contests.
No. 11 Syracuse: 18-9 - 14-13 ATS
November/December: 4-3 ATS
January: 2-6 ATS
February: 2-4 ATS
March: 6-0 ATS
Vs. Total: 14-13 Over
In NCAA Tournament: 2-0 ATS
The Orange have gotten hot at the right time, as nothing during the regular season would have predicted how well they’re playing in the postseason. They faced four top-25 teams during the regular season and went 1-3 against them. Their NET ranking close at 40 and they were 1-7 against Quad 1 opponents during the season. Houston would definitely be considered a Quad 1 opponent as well, so this looks to be an uphill battle for them.
They are obviously hot right now and have the potential to pull off the upset. The Orange have covered the spread in seven of their last 10 games overall and in each of their NCAA Tournament games. Though the biggest spread they ever had over that time as an underdog was +5. In fact, even though their record hasn’t been great this year, they rarely found themselves as an underdog by a margin this big. They’ve only found themselves at +6 or bigger twice before and they didn’t cover either time.
In terms of the point total, they’ve hit the over on a point total greater than 140.5 on seven occasions this season, but they’ve never faced an opponent that moves at the snail's pace like Houston does, so it will be tough to hit such a high mark on Saturday night.