After an unforgettable first weekend, it’s on to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. The regional semifinal action tips off on Saturday with four games across both the Midwest and South Regions. In the nightcap, college basketball fans will be treated to an intriguing showdown between the 11-seed Syracuse Orange and 2-seed Houston Cougars. The Sweet 16 betting oddsmakers have declared Houston as a clear favorite in advance of the matchup.

The following offers a comprehensive breakdown and betting preview of Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 showdown. Read on for vital game information, team statistics, trends and predictions for the Syracuse vs Houston matchup.

Can Oral Roberts continue their Cinderella run? Check out our game preview for their Sweet 16 matchup against Arkansas!

Syracuse vs Houston Sweet 16 Game Info

Syracuse Orange (18-9, 9-7 ACC) vs. Houston Cougars (26-3, 14-3 American)
Saturday, Mar. 27, 2021
Start Time: 9:55 p.m. EST
Venue: Hinkle Fieldhouse — Indianapolis, IN
Coverage: TBS

Credit: F. Carter Smith

Syracuse vs Houston Betting Odds

Odds courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook

Moneyline: SYR: (+220) | HOU: (-270)
Spread: SYR: +6.5 (-110) | HOU: -6.5 (-110)
Total: 140.5  — Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 | College Basketball Betting Overview

Syracuse Basketball Outlook

At this point, Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament habits are like clockwork. When the Orange are seeded highly after a strong regular season, they have all they can do to get out of the first weekend. But when they get into the bracket by the skin of their teeth as an 11-seed or one of the last four teams in, lookout. That’s exactly what has played out yet again this year. Syracuse was very average in an ACC that was very average compared to the norm for both this season. Yet, an ACC Tournament win over Louisville got the Cuse into the field while bouncing the Cardinals at the same time. One domination of San Diego State and a narrow win over West Virginia later and the Orange are in the Sweet 16 once again.

Of course, Syracuse presents a wrinkle for all opponents come March in terms of a game plan. Jim Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone throws a different defensive look and can make it tough for opponents with limited time to prepare. Add in the red-hot shooting of son Buddy Boeheim and the Cuse is indeed loose. Boeheim went off for 30 points in the First Round win over SDSU. He then followed that up with 25 points in the upset of 3-seed West Virginia. His range is seemingly unlimited at times. Even a top-notch scoring defense like Houston will have to account for him at all times no matter where he is on the floor.

Syracuse KenPom Ratings

  • Overall Efficiency Margin: +17.51 (No. 37 in NCAA)
  • Offense: 114.8 (No. 17 in NCAA)
  • Defense: 97.3 (No. 89 in NCAA)
  • Tempo: 68.7 (No. 150 in NCAA)

Houston Basketball Outlook

In a lot of ways, Houston is fortunate to even have a game on Saturday. Calvin Sampson’s squad benefitted from the fact that 10-seed Rutgers decided to sit on a lead and try to run clock too soon in their Second Round matchup. The Cougars did what they have done all season which is lock down defensively and go to work on the glass. The result was a comeback win to advance to the Sweet 16. With their “scare game” out of the way, is the 2-seed in the Midwest Region a threat to do damage going forward?

Kansas transfer Quentin Grimes led all Houston players with an average of 18.1 points per game this season. He was up to his usual tricks against Rutgers with a team-high 22 points. He also showed his tenacity on the boards even as a guard by grabbing 9 rebounds. Despite dealing with a painful hip injury that was causing pain with every step he took, Dejon Jarreau also made his presence felt down the stretch in the Second Round win, finishing with 17 points. His health will be critical for Houston going forward in the NCAA Tournament. With extra days to rest ahead of this Sweet 16 betting matchup, the Cougars will look for Jarreau to be closer to 100%. Houston’s tenacity on the glass presents an interesting challenge for Syracuse’s zone defense. Boxing out and team rebounding is always tougher when a team plays zone because you aren’t automatically assigned to a body throughout the possession.

Houston KenPom Ratings

  • Overall Efficiency Margin: +29.26 (No. 4 in NCAA)
  • Offense: 119.2 (No. 7 in NCAA)
  • Defense: 89.9 (No. 11 in NCAA)
  • Tempo: 64.8 (No. 324 in NCAA)
  • Syracuse 2020-21 Betting Trends: 14-13 ATS; 14-13 to the Over
  • Houston 2020-21 Betting Trends: 19-9 ATS; 14-14 to the Over
  • Syracuse is 6-0 ATS in their last six games.
  • Syracuse is 18-7-1 in their last 27 games as a neutral site underdog.
  • Houston is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games as a neutral site favorite.
  • The over has hit in 11 of Syracuse’s last 13 neutral site games.
  • The under is 12-3 in Houston’s last 15 games following an ATS loss.

Syracuse vs Houston Stats

  • Syracuse is averaging 75.9 points per game (PPG) this season (No. 53 in NCAA)
  • Syracuse is surrendering 70.4 PPG on the season (No. 170 in NCAA)
  • Houston is averaging 76.2 PPG this season (No. 48 in NCAA)
  • Houston is surrendering 58.3 PPG (No. 2 in NCAA)
Credit: Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Syracuse vs Houston Prediction

Can Houston take advantage of the wide-open Midwest Region bracket? The Cougars are the only team seeded higher than 8th remaining in the region. To do so, they’ll have to get through a long, athletic Syracuse team in tonight’s game. The length of the Orange is part of what makes their zone so effective. Add in the shooting tear that Buddy Boeheim is on and Syracuse has become a popular pick ahead of this Sweet 16 matchup.

Although I’m not typically one who is eager to back a square dog, I like Syracuse plus the points in this matchup. Moneyline might be a bit of a stretch, but I believe the Orange are very much live here and will make this a competitive game. The key for Boeheim’s Army will be boxing out and taking care of the rebounds on the defensive end. Houston has made a killing on the offensive glass all season, including down the stretch in their win over Rutgers. 

I also handicap this game to be low-scoring. Houston plays at a snail’s pace and had the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation this season. Syracuse doesn’t exactly turn games into a track meet either, which leads me to believe the over/under line of 140.5 is a bit high. This game feels like it is more likely to stay in the 60’s. A lower-scoring game makes the +6.5 ATS pick on the Orange all the more intriguing as well.

Pick: Syracuse +6.5, Under 140.5 (Both -110 at Bovada Sportsbook)

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Henry’s passion for sports dates all the way back to childhood and has ultimately led to a full-fledged career as an analyst and content creator. After getting his start penning fantasy football articles, he forrayed into the betting side of the business in early 2019. His love for sports and statistics proved to be an ideal match with the dedicated research and strategy that handicapping requires. Henry currently specializes in betting analysis and picks for college football, college basketball and NASCAR. He counts the NFL, the WNBA, and NBA player props as additional leagues/markets of interest. Henry graduated from SUNY Buffalo in 2021 with a Communication Studies degree and a Psychology minor. A native of the Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York, he and his pup, Harold, have since relocated to Laramie, Wyoming. Thanks to his professional goals within the sports betting industry, there has been a whole lot of steam on the odds for a move to Las Vegas in 2023! Most of Henry’s free time is spent on outdoor adventures, playing chess, snowboarding, or reading a good book. He is also a competitive powerlifter and aspires to qualify for the USAPL Nationals meet within the next 2-3 years.

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