Legendary Coaches Meet in Sweet 16 Collision
Among the chaos, the Midwest Region mostly stayed intact and features the lowest combined seeds with No. 1 Houston, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Xavier and No. 5 Miami. This will be a must-watch region with four heavyweights duking it out.
No. 1 Houston (33-3) against No. 5 Miami (27-7) is an intriguing Sweet 16 clash between veteran coaches in Kelvin Sampson and Jim Larranaga. After a close first-round win, the Hurricanes dominated in the second round with a 16-point win and cover against No. 4 Indiana. The Cougars managed to pull away against No. 9 Auburn with an 81-64 win after a first-half scare. Here’s everything you need to know for the matchup before placing your online gambling picks.
Also check on these NCAAB betting lines.
Houston looked vulnerable in the Round of 32 against Auburn. It trailed 41-31 at halftime. The defense looked sloppy and the offense struggled to find consistency. Yet, the Cougars dominated the second half, outscoring the Tigers 50-23. Forward Tramon Mark turned in one of the biggest performances of his career with 26 points as guards Marcus Sasser (16.9 points) and Jamal Shead (10.4 points) sat on the bench with foul trouble.
Tramon Mark heating up. Houston leads 54-51 with just over eight minutes left.pic.twitter.com/Nh6EkFreQH
— Josh Criswell (@criswell_sports) March 19, 2023
Following the win over Auburn, the sportsbook no longer has Houston as the favorite to win the tournament. Its odds to win March Madness are at +400, behind Alabama at +375. Why are there concerns surrounding the Cougars after a dominant second-half performance with adversity?
Sasser is battling a groin injury while Shead is dealing with a knee problem. They have continued to play and will be full-go on Friday. However, it’s difficult to not be concerned about the injuries, especially after Sasser said he was “in pain” during the Auburn game. Houston needs big games from Sasser and Shead, as Miami likes to play small ball with a four-guard lineup.
Miami: Underdogs in the Midwest
The Hurricanes struggled in the first round, scoring only 63 points while shooting 30.4% against Drake. Miami found a way to win and showed its frustration in the second round. Against Indiana, the Hurricanes controlled the game from nearly start to finish. Isaiah Wong (16.1 points) bounced back from a five-point showing with 27 points against the Hoosiers.
Forward Norchad Omier (10.1 rebounds) helped dominate the glass with 17 boards. Miami outrebounded Indiana 48 to 31. The Hurricanes need another big rebounding performance against Houston, which ranks 12th in rebounds per game.
According to college basketball lines, Miami is the least likely to win the Midwest region at +875. However, this team is certainly capable. After corralling 20 offensive rebounds against Indiana, there’s even more reason to buy into the Canes. Houston is 86th in defensive rebounding percentage, which gives Miami the chance for extra possessions.
Houston vs Miami Game Injuries
Houston vs Miami Head-to-Head
In 14 meetings, Houston is 9-5 against Miami. However, the two have not met since 1971.
Houston vs Miami Game Information
- Game: Houston (33-3) vs Miami (27-7)
- Location: T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO
- Day/Time: Friday, March 24, 7:15 p.m. ET
- Houston vs Miami Live Stream: TBS.com
Houston vs Miami Betting Lines
Houston vs Miami Picks and Prediction
Sasser is one of the tournament’s best players, as college basketball odds list him as the second favorite to win most outstanding player (+750). If he is not healthy, Houston’s backcourt could be severely outmatched. However, Sasser dominated early in the second half against Auburn and finished with 22 points. Despite injuries, Sasser and Shead are still producing.
This matchup could come down to rebounding. Miami’s performance on the glass against Indiana was very impressive. However, the Cougars are a different monster, ranking fourth in offensive rebounding percentage. The Canes rank 157th in defensive rebounding percentage.
It will be interesting to see what rotations Sampson will play against Miami’s small-ball lineups. Houston’s frontcourt defenders are athletic with exceptional versatility, but are the Canes too quick? The Cougars will win outright, but NCAA basketball odds’ seven-point spread feels too high. Take the Hurricanes to cover as they are 2-0 against the spread over the last two.
Houston is listed at -330 in our Las Vegas college basketball lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Cougars, you have a chance to win $30. Miami is +270, offering a chance to win $270 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives Houston a 76.74% chance to win, with the Hurricanes at 27.03%.