The Elite 8 gets underway with an extremely compelling matchup between the Houston Cougars (32-5) and Villanova Wildcats (29-7) on Saturday night. Tip-off from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, is scheduled for 6:09 pm EST on TBS.
Houston is the 5-seed, facing off against the 2-seed Villanova, where the winner will earn the right to play in the Final Four, emerging as the champion of the South Region.
This will mark just the third time these two programs will square off in an NCAA Tournament game and the first since 1983. The Wildcats won a First Round tilt in 1981, and then the Cougars returned the favor in the regional final two years later, both resulting in 18-point margins. Check out March Madness Odds, analysis, and a free prediction for Houston Cougars versus Villanova Wildcats.
March Madness Elite 8 Round Betting Analysis: #5 Houston vs #2 Villanova Preview
Villanova Preview: Super Nova
The ‘Cats are in the Elite 8 after an eight-point win over Michigan in the Sweet 16 on Thursday. That was preceded by double-digit victories over Ohio State and Delaware during the Tournament’s opening weekend.
Villanova covered in all three wins, most recently as 5-point chalk against Juwan Howard and the Wolverines. The Wildcats really only go six deep in their rotation but had three different players lead the team in scoring over the first three games of the Big Dance.
Justin Moore led the way in the First Round with 21, Collin Gillespie had 20 in their Round of 32 victory over the Buckeyes, and Jermaine Samuels dropped 22 in the Sweet 16.
Houston Preview: Cougs on the Hunt
Houston has been one of the more impressive teams in the field to this point as well, winning nine of their last ten just like their next opponent. The Cougars are in this position after wins over UAB, Illinois, and the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats.
Houston overwhelmed UAB by 14 as 8.5-point favorites, suffocated the Illini by 15 as 3-point chalk, and went wire-to-wire over the top seed in the South, eliminating Arizona by 12 as slight underdogs.
Kyler Edwards and Jamal Shead are carrying the load offensively for the Cougars, each notching a 20+-point game in the Tournament so far and averaging 19.6 and 17.0 ppg through the first three matchups.
Houston vs Villanova Betting Odds
Houston has opened as the betting-line favorite for this one, laying 2 points to Villanova with an over/under of 128.5 points.
Free Betting Pick
This should make for a fascinating contest to determine the first Final Four qualifier. You’ve got a team in Villanova who makes the fewest mistakes in the country going up against Houston, who causes the most. And, of course, the battle will feature two of the game’s best coaches in Jay Wright and Kelvin Sampson.
It’s an even year, so the unsubstantiated edge could go to ‘Nova. They won the whole thing in 2016, again in 2018, and certainly had a contender in 2020 before March Madness was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jay gets to his fourth Final Four in what could be the best game of the weekend.
Betting Pick: Villanova +2