Upcoming Match-ups

Syracuse vs Houston Odds, Lines, and Spread

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Mar 22, 2021 · 1:20 PM PDT

Quentin Grimes
Houston guard Quentin Grimes, left, celebrates his 3-point basket with Fabian White Jr. during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against South Florida, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
  • The No. 2 seed Houston Cougars battle the No. 11 Syracuse Orange in a Midwest Region Sweet 16 matchup
  • UH needed a 14-2 run at the end to close out No. 10 Rutgers and advance, while the ‘Cuse held off third-seeded West Virginia to move on
  • Read below for odds, analysis, and best bet for this matchup

The No. 2 seed Houston Cougars (26-3, 14-3 AAC), who have won nine in a row, battle the No. 11 seed Syracuse Orange (18-9, 9-7 ACC) in a Midwest Region Sweet 16 matchup on Saturday, March 27, in Indianapolis, Tip time is set for 9.55 pm ET.

Kelvin Sampson’s group withstood a valiant effort by Rutgers to reach the regionals for a second straight Big Dance. Meanwhile, the Orange advanced to the program’s third Sweet 16 in the last five tourneys as a double-digit seed thanks to a back-and-forth affair against the Mountaineers.

Now, the school that gave us Phi Slamma Jamma once upon a time is favored to beat Jim Boeheim’s team and move on to the Elite 8.

Syracuse vs Houston Odds

Team Spread at DraftKings Moneyline Total
Syracuse +6.5 (-107) +215 O 141.0 (-110)
Houston -6.5 (-113) -275 U 141.0 (-110)

Odds updated at 12:17 pm ET on March 27th. The point spread opened at Houston -6. The game total opened at 140..

In the Zone

How did Syracuse secure its 20th Sweet 16 berth in 45 seasons under Boeheim? The Hall of Fame coach’s son was a huge factor in the gritty 75-72 victory Round of 32 win over WVU. Junior guard Buddy Boeheim scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half, hitting 6-of-13 from three-point range.

Over the course of the past four games — two essential to the Orange being selected for the tournament, and the two that advanced them to next weekend — he has averaged 28.3 points. Catching fire at the right time has been a huge factor in yet another ‘Cuse March Madness run. So has its defense.

Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone defense seemingly always looks beatable in January against ACC competition who see it 2-3 times during the conference slate and tournament. But when well-coached teams — like the Mountaineers are under Bob Huggins — face it in March, it invariably seems to offer fits.

The West Virginia coach noted as much after the game, saying it’s hard to prepare for the defense when you don’t see it often. Sampson initially declined to talk about the prospect of facing the Orange, saying he wanted to enjoy his team’s rally to win.

But the reality is, if the Cougs don’t figure it out, the Syracuse zone will claim another quality victim.

We Can D, Too!

For as vaunted as the Orange’s trademark D is, Houston can frustrate opponents as well. Rutgers did everything right until the final 10 minutes of an eventual 63-60 loss, when the magnitude of the moment appeared to catch up to it. The Scarlet Knights had just 13 turnovers — but two of them came in the decisive final minute.

The team’s leading scorer, Quentin Grimes, led the Cougars’ comeback with 22 points, while Dejon Jarreau overcame a severely bruised hip to score 17 — including a critical bucket down the stretch, More on his status in a bit. But let’s not forget, this Houston team is elite when it comes to defense.

The Cougars lead the nation in effective field goal percentage defensively, holding opponents to only 43.3%. Part of that suffocating effort on a game-to-game basis is top-10 marks in two-point field-goal percentage (42.9%, fifth-best in the country), free throw percentage (65.6%, also fifth-best) and block percentage (14.9%, ninth-best).

Bottom line: this Cougar team can slow down even the most vaunted offenses. It only gave up more than 68 points twice all season (in an 82-73 loss to East Carolina and a 76-74 win over Memphis).

In This Love Together?

Jarreau played masterfully playing through that hip injury, putting up 17 points, five rebounds and two assists in the win Sunday. He was clearly favoring his hip though, which caused him to sit out in key moments and allowed the Scarlet Knights to nearly pull off the upset. His status Saturday will be a huge factor for Sampson.

With their senior guard at less than 100% whether he plays or not, the Cougars may have a difficult time stopping “Buckets” Boeheim enough.

We’ve seen these tourney runs time and again from Syracuse. The Orange embarrassed a really good San Diego State team in the first round and survived a KenPom top-25 rated (No. 24) West Virginia outfit Sunday. There’s no reason to think they can’t do the same to Houston. Give me the ‘Cuse and the points.

The pick: Syracuse +6.5 (-110)

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