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Duke vs Houston Predictions, Odds & Picks for Sweet 16 Matchup

Matt McEwan

by Matt McEwan in College Basketball

Updated Mar 28, 2024 · 5:00 PM PDT

Duke guard Jeremy Roach celebrates a three-point basket
Mar 24, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach (3) reacts against the James Madison Dukes in the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
  • Duke takes on Houston in the second-last game of the Sweet 16 on Friday, March 29
  • The Houston Cougars are listed as the favorites, but are they a good bet?
  • See my picks, predictions, and the best odds for each side below

The seventh game of the Sweet 16 sees #4 Duke take on #1 Houston in South Region action. These have been two of the top teams in the country all year and it’s bound to be a great game. The two teams enter their Sweet 16 matchup coming off very different experiences in the Round of 32.

The game is scheduled to tip-off on Friday, March 29 at 9:39pm ET and can be seen on CBS. (Just be aware that this game is being played at America Airlines Center right after NC State vs Marquette. So, if that game runs a little long, the tip for Duke vs Houston will also get pushed back.)

Duke vs Houston Odds

Team Spread Total Moneyline
Duke -4.5 (-120) O 133.5 (-115) +160
Houston -4.5 (+100) U 133.5 (-105) -190

The #1 Houston Cougars are 4.5-point favorites in their matchup with Duke. Houston is given -190 odds to win the game, which comes out to a 65.5% probability to win the game.

If you bet $20 on Houston to win, you would stand to win $10.53 and return $30.53. If you placed that same $20 bet on Duke at +160 odds, your potential profit would be $32 while returning $52.


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Houston opened as a 4-point favorite in their Sweet 16 matchup with Duke, and the total opened at 133. Some sportsbooks still have Houston -4, but most have moved to 4.5 now. One betting app has gone the other way with the spread, moving to 3.5.

The Duke vs Houston odds in the table above are from ESPN Bet.

If you already have a bet in mind and are only here to find the best odds, I have rounded up the best sportsbook to place each bet at below:

  • Best sportsbook for Houston ML = BetMGM (-189)
  • Best sportsbook for Duke ML = bet365 (+165)
  • Best sportsbook for Houston spread = BetMGM (-3.5 at -120)
  • Best sportsbook for Duke spread = FanDuel (+4.5 at -115)
  • Best sportsbook for over = FanDuel (133.5 at -115)
  • Best sportsbook for under = DraftKings (134.5 at -112)

But if you’re not seeing this article right away – check the publish date at the top – then you should also consult our college basketball odds to ensure a better price hasn’t emerged since publish.

Duke Offense Enters Sweet 16 Red-Hot

After a pretty mediocre shooting performance against Vermont in the first round, Duke’s offense exploded against James Madison in the Round of 32. As a team, they shot 52% from the field and an extremely impressive 50% (14/28) from behind the three-point line. The ball was moving from side-to-side and players were passing up decent looks to give their teammates even better looks. The Blue Devils only had 11 made field goals that went unassisted against James Madison.

Jared McCain and Tyrese Proctor did the majority of the damage from behind the three-point line, shooting 8/11 and 4/10, respectively. McCain led the team with 30 points in just 31 minutes, while Proctor, Jeremy Roach, and Kyle Filipowski all scored double-digit points as well. It will be important that Roach is available for Duke after suffering a dislocated finger on Sunday – early reports suggest he will be able to go.

What should be most concerning to Houston, in my opinion, is that we have yet to see Filipowski do much this tournament. After averaging a team-high 16.6 points per game this season, Duke’s star center attempted just one shot against Vermont and only needed eight attempts against James Madison. This is a player who was pretty regularly pouring in 20-25+ points when Duke needed him.

If Filipowski gets going down low and McCain, Proctor, and Roach stay hot from deep, this Duke team will be tough to stop.

Houston Must Stay Out of Foul Trouble & Rebound

According to TheGameHaus.com, Houston has been an early pick from the start of the tournament. However, they were given quite the scare in the second round.

One of the reasons for Houston’s scare in the second round was the foul trouble they got themselves into. The Cougars committed 28 personal fouls, and had to play without LJ Cryer and Emanuel Sharp, both fouled out, down the stretch. For perspective, the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles averaged the most personal fouls per game this season at 21.6.

Houston only averages 17.9 personal fouls per game for the season, which ranks 268th in the country. The good news is Duke only draws an average of 16.2 fouls per game on their opponent (244th), while their Round of 32 opponent, Texas A&M, was 16th in the country, forcing their opponents to commit an average of 19.7 fouls per game.

The Cougars cannot get themselves into foul trouble again. Not only will Duke make them pay from the charity stripe – A&M only made 29 of their 45 free throws (64%) – but Houston is going to need all their shooters on the floor in the game’s biggest moments.

Another factor that led to Houston’s near-exit was all the offensive rebounds they gave up to A&M. The Aggies grabbed 22 offensive rebounds, which included 12 in the second half. Once again, there’s a bright light here in that Texas A&M led the nation, by a fair amount, in offensive rebounds per game – they averaged 15.3 per game and the second-best was just 13. Duke only averages nine offensive rebounds per game (129th), and Houston only allows 8.7 per game (196th).

If Houston allows Duke to hit the glass and get some second chance looks, that’s where the Blue Devils could start heating up from behind the three-point line.

Duke vs Houston Team Stats Comparison

While there are plenty of college basketball stats I could list our for comparison, the stats below are the ones I believe to be most important for this matchup:

10th NET Ranking 1st
5-4 Quadrant 1 Record 16-4
6-4 Quadrant 2 Record 3-0
6th (+26.99) KenPom AdjEM 2nd (+31.58)
5th (122.6) KP Adj Off Efficiency 14th (119.6)
19th (95.6) KP Adj Def Eff 2nd (88.0)
245th (66.6) KP Adj Tempo 346th (63.7)
71st (+9.09) KP SOS 22nd (+11.14)
199th (+0.05) KP Non-Conf SOS 225th (-1.00)
13th (38.1%) 3P% 129th (34.9%)
71st (32.1%) Opponent 3P% 10th (30.0%)
183rd (72.1%) FT% 296th (69.1%)
129th (9.0) Off Rebounds 7th (12.3)
77th (7.7) Opp Off Rebounds 196th (8.7)

As I mentioned above, I believe three-point shooting and offensive rebounding will play a big role in determining who advances to the Elite Eight.

Duke vs Houston Predictions & Pick

In spite of Houston’s struggles in the second round, I do still see them as the better team in this matchup. I believe A&M was able to exploit Houston in ways the vast majority of teams cannot – on the offensive glass and by putting them in foul trouble by slashing so well. I don’t believe Duke can apply the same pressure.

However, Houston’s inability to put the Aggies away late does concern me a little. They don’t have a ton of scoring depth and can be a little too reliant on offensive rebounds at times. So, I don’t feel great laying the points here, as I think Duke has the offensive firepower to keep this one close. Instead, I am going to craft another same-game parlay with Houston moneyline and LJ Cryer to score 12+ points.

Cryer has scored 20 and 17, respectively, in Houston’s two tournament games, and has scored at least 12 in ten of Houston’s 12 wins that came by 10 points or less. When the Cougars win close games, which this one projects to be, Cryer scores.

Pick: Houston moneyline & LJ Cryer 12+ points same-game parlay (-110) at DraftKings

If you find yourself in a state that does not allow college basketball player props, you can swap out Cryer’s points for the over on an alternate team total for Houston. The Cougars have scored 100 and 86 points, respectively, in their two tournament games, and have posted at least 67 points in all but five games this season. I don’t believe they’re beating Duke with any less than 67.

Alternate Pick: Houston moneyline & Houston over 66.5 points (-115) at BetMGM

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