#11 Syracuse vs #2 Houston

#11 Syracuse vs #2 Houston | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on March 25, 2021

The last of four Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament games on Saturday from Indianapolis is from the Midwest Region as No. 11 Syracuse of the ACC, in yet another Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed, faces No. 2 Houston of the AAC with the Cougars favored on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Syracuse vs. Houston NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info
  • When: Saturday, 9:55 PM ET
  • Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
  • TV: TBS
  • Stream: https://www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: Houston -6 (total 140)
Last Meeting

It’s the second all-time meeting between Syracuse and Houston. The only other time the teams played each other was in 1982 in the Carrier Dome. Houston’s “Phi Slama Jama” featuring Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon traveled to the Dome in the regular season, but it was Syracuse who emerged victorious 92-87. Tony Bruin led Syracuse with 26 points. Houston went on to lose in the national championship game that year to North Carolina State on a buzzer-beating dunk by the Wolfpack.

Why Bet on Syracuse? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Orange (18-9) are in the Sweet 16 thanks to Buddy Boeheim, son of Coach Jim Boeheim. Buddy is averaging 27.5 PPG and connecting on 57% of his 3-point attempts for a Syracuse team that beat San Diego State and West Virginia to advance to the Sweet 16. As a team, Syracuse has made 60% of its shots inside the arc and 49% of its 3-point attempts with Boeheim on the floor.

In the 75-72 win over No. 3 West Virginia in the Round of 32, the game was tied 56-all but the Orange went on a 14-3 run keyed by five points from Boeheim and another four from Marek Dolezaj. The Orange did not trail again. Two free throws by Boeheim with 21 ticks left pushed Syracuse ahead, 74-68. Two scores by West Virginia had the margin at 74-72 and Boeheim at the line against with two seconds on the clock. Boeheim made the first, missed the second, and Syracuse held on.

Boeheim finished with 25 points, while Marek Dolezaj, Joseph Girard III, and Quincy Guerrier joined Boeheim in double figures with 12 points apiece. Guerrier led the Orange on the glass with seven boards and made his presence felt in the paint by tallying five blocks, tying his career high.

The win gave Syracuse its 20th appearance in the Sweet Sixteen under Jim Boeheim. The Orange last appeared in the Sweet Sixteen in 2018. Boeheim, 76, will try to guide Syracuse to its sixth Final Four appearance during his tenure.

Buddy Boeheim’s 55 combined points are third-most through two opening games in the tournament in program history behind Gary Clark in 1957 (60 points) and Gerry McNamara in 2004 (56 points).

Buddy has moved past James Williams (1,119 points), Andy Rautins (1,121 points), and DeShaun Williams (1,136 points) for sole possession of 53rd place on the program scoring list.

Why Bet on Houston? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, Houston (26-3) beat Cleveland State by 31 in its first-round matchup. The Cougars followed that up with a come from behind 63-60 victory over Rutgers in the second round. The Cougars got a clutch three-point play from freshman Tramon Mark with 24 seconds left, then watched as Ron Harper Jr.’s tying 3-point try bounce off the rim.

Quentin Grimes led the Cougars’ comeback with 22 points, and DeJon Jarreau overcame a severely bruised hip to score 17. Head coach Kelvin Sampson has called Jarreau their most important player — he is the leader of their offense and excellent at getting into the lane and distributing for others. However, he’s clearly not 100 percent.

It’s fair to give Houston credit for its effort in a tight contest while also acknowledging that its margin of victory in three triumphs over top-50 KenPom teams (two vs. Memphis and then Rutgers) this month is just 2.6 points per game. It has three other wins in March by 25 points or more, all against sub-100 KenPom squads. Houston is good but has been tested against the better teams on their schedule in recent weeks.

Houston has won nine straight since losing to Wichita State on Feb. 18, and now heads back to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive tournament. UH is trying to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since the Phi Slama Jama heyday from 1982-84. Coach Kelvin Sampson is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003.

The biggest mismatch in this game is the Houston offense’s volume of shots against the Orange’s poor defensive rebounding. No team in the NCAA averages more shots per 100 possessions than the Cougars, and the Orange are 350th in the same metric.

Game Trends
  • Orange are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
  • Orange are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win.
  • Orange are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win.
  • Cougars are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 neutral site games as a favorite.
  • Cougars are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
  • Cougars are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 neutral site games.
Expert Prediction
  • Houston 73, Syracuse 70
 
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