We have an all-Texas matchup as the Houston Cougars get set to take on the Baylor Bears in the Final Four. This game features a battle of a top offense in Baylor and a top defense in Houston. This is a historic game for both programs, as Baylor is playing in their first Final Four since 1950 and Houston is playing in their first Final Four since 1984. One of these teams will be one win closer to cutting down the nights on Saturday night. It’s time to continue our NCAA Odds series and make a Houston-Baylor prediction and pick.
Here is how the sportsbooks have set the opening Houston-Baylor odds:
NCAA Odds: Houston-Baylor Odds
Houston Cougars +5 (-110)
Baylor Bears -5 (-110)
Over 134.5 Points (-110)
Under 134.5 Points (-110)
Why Houston Could Cover The Spread
The Houston Cougars are having a historically great season in 2021. They have played exceptionally well all season long and are now just two wins away from the ultimate goal. The Cougars have had a fairly interesting road to the Final Four. They are the first team in tournament history to play all double-digit seeds in their route to the Final Four. Don’t get it twisted, this team would still probably be here if that weren’t the case, though.
The Houston Cougars are the top team in the country in effective field goal percentage against. They hold opponents to a staggeringly low 29.2% from beyond the arc as well. This could be a huge edge for the Cougars against a Baylor team that lives and dies from three. Houston has only surrendered more than 60 points once in their last five games and matches up well against Baylor’s lethal backcourt. Quentin Grimes (18 ppg) will be the key for Houston as he is their leading scorer and catalyst on the offensive end. Look for Houston to try to exploit the Bears’ lack of size through big man Justin Gorham.
Why Baylor Could Cover The Spread
The Baylor Bears have had a tremendous season behind their NCAA-leading offense. The Bears have averaged 74.5 points per game in tournament play this far. They also possess the best backcourt in the nation. The trio of Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell all average between 14 and 16 points per game. Baylor leads the nation in three-point shooting percentage at 41.4%. They have shot 30-84 from three in the tournament.
The Bears defense shouldn’t be overlooked. Baylor has held opponents to just 60.3 points per game in tournament play and gets a steal more than once in every eight defensive possessions. They will try to create frantic turnovers from a Houston offense that does a pretty solid job of protecting the rock. Big man Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua will be the key for the Baylor Bears in this Final Four matchup. He had a great game in the Elite Eight and will need to play physical basketball down low to combat a larger Cougar front. Baylor has been covering of late, going 3-0 ATS in their last three games.
Final Houston-Baylor Prediction & Pick
The Houston Cougars are my pick to reach the National Championship game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. In what’s sure to be a high-intensity affair, Houston’s defense gives them the ultimate edge. The Cougars possess the offensive firepower to keep it close throughout. With the size and coaching advantage, the Houston Cougars will cover a five-point spread. Don’t be surprised if this line drops a hair close to tipoff.
FINAL PICK: Houston Cougars +5 (-110)