The Houston Cougars will begin their quest for a national championship on Thursday when they take on the first Northern Kentucky Norse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars enter the game as a (-19.5) favorite with a total currently set at 122.5 points. The contest is scheduled for a 9:20 PM EST tip-off from the Legacy Center in Birmingham, AL, and will be broadcast on TNT.
Let’s take a look at the NCAA basketball odds, so you can prepare your betting strategies.
2023 March Madness Round of 64 Game
Northern Kentucky Norse vs. Houston Cougars Betting Preview
Northern Kentucky of Horizon League meets Houston of Big 12 in NCAA Tourney First Round
ATS Odds: Houston -20
Moneyline Odds: Horizon League -20
Over/Under Odds:Northern Kentucky +1600 / Houston -5000
When: Thursday, March 16 at 4:20 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA
TV / Streaming: TBS
Why Bet on Northern Kentucky Norse against Houston Cougars?
Unlike some of the other small schools in this NCAA Tournament, the Norse boast a tremendous amount of both experience and success in coach Darrin Horn. Coach Horn led the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers for five seasons and won the league twice while winning 20 or more games four times in those five seasons. He has three conference titles on his resume and a 2-1 record in the NCAA Tournament, which might have improved if the 2020 tournament had been played when NKU won their postseason tournament.
The Norse are led by high-scoring Marques Warrick, a three-time All-Horizon league performer. Warrick is averaging over 19 points per game this season and is shooting over 39% from behind the three-point line. He also has an affinity for getting to the line, having shot the fifth most free throws in the league this season with 116 attempts while shooting over 81% from the stripe.
Why Bet on Houston Cougars against orthern Kentucky Norse?
The biggest question regarding the Houston Cougars heading into this game is easily the health of star guard Marcus Sasser. The Cougars’ leading scorer straight his groin in the American Athletic Conference Tournament semi-finals matchup against Cincinnati and did not return and was then held out of the title game against Memphis. It is currently unclear as to whether or not he will play in this game.
Even with the loss of their 17-points-per-game guard, Kelvin Sampson has the talent to overwhelm the Norse. Freshman stud Jarace Walker has been somewhat lackadaisical lately but showed his potential during the month of January through the first week of February when he posted four 20+ point games. J’Wan Roberts, Jamal Shead, and Tramone Mark are also capable players that should lead this team to a victory regardless of Sasser’s status, as all average at least 9.7 points per contest.
Northern Kentucky vs. Houston Relevant Trends
- Northern Kentucky has hit the Moneyline in 33 of their last 47 games
- Northern Kentucky has hit the Game Total Under in 14 of their last 19 away games
- Northern Kentucky has hit the Team Total Over in 15 of their last 22 games
- Houston has hit the 1H Moneyline in 43 of their last 50 games
- Houston have covered the 1H Spread in 25 of their last 39 games
- Houston have covered the Spread in 28 of their last 46 games
Northern Kentucky Norse vs. Houston Cougars Final Betting Prediction
The spread opened at 20 and has shrunk only slightly down to 19.5. If Sasser is ruled out, that number will likely shrink a fair amount, but it is also safe to assume he will be less than 100% with that strained groin. With a scorer like Warrick, it might be enough to keep the Norse within the number as both teams rank outside the top 350 in tempo. Houston actually finished 7th in the AAC with an 18-16 record ATS this season and has covered just two spreads since February 16th.
Norse cover, Houston wins, and if Sasser plays take the over.
March Madness Round of 64 Pick: Norse cover, Houston wins | Bet Northern Kentucky vs. Houston Today
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2023 March Madness Sweet 16 Schedule
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Friday, March 24 | Sweet 16
|No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 5 San Diego State||6:30 p.m.||TBS|
|No. 1 Houston vs. No. 5 Miami||7:15 p.m.||CBS|
|No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 15 Princeton||9 p.m.||TBS|
|No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Xavier||9:45 p.m.||CBS|
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