The No. 1 seed Houston Cougars (31-3, 17-1 AAC) will begin their NCAA Tournament play with a matchup with the No. 16 seed Northern Kentucky Norse (22-12, 14-6 Horizon) on Thursday night. The game will get started at 9:20 p.m. ET from Legacy Arena at BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama, and can be seen on TNT.
Let’s take a look at the odds and lines on DraftKings Sportsbook and make some picks.
No. 1 Houston vs. No. 16 Northern Kentucky picks
Spread: Houston -19.5
Moneyline: Houston -2800, Northern Kentucky +1300
Houston rolled through the AAC regular season in first place but fell short in the conference title game against the Memphis Tigers without leading scorer Marcus Sasser, who’s dealing with a groin injury. Northern Kentucky is in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history and won five games in a row and claimed the Horizon League Tournament championship.
It’s unclear whether Sasser will be available for this contest, but it doesn’t matter. The Cougars crush opponents they’re clearly better than as shown by its NCAA-best 18.5 average margin of victory. The Norse rate 217th in KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency, and it’s difficult to see them having much success against a Cougars D that is fourth in adjusted efficiency.
Pick: Houston -19.5