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Syracuse vs. Houston NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Picks

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Syracuse vs. Houston NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Picks
Buddy Boeheim #35 of the Syracuse Orange reacts. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Double-digit seeds are all the rage in this year’s edition of March Madness, and the Syracuse Orange look to keep the theme going on Saturday in one of the Sweet 16 matchups from the Midwest Region against the Houston Cougars.

Syracuse Orange vs. Houston Cougars

Saturday, March 27, 2021 – 09:55 PM EDT at Hinkle Fieldhouse

Houston followed up a second-place finish in the regular season with the AAC Tournament title, good enough to land the Cougars the No. 2 seed in the Midwest. They head into the Sweet 16 round as the top-seeded team left in that region. Syracuse had to sit and sweat on Selection Sunday after finishing eighth in the ACC during the regular season, then falling to Virginia in the conference quarterfinals. The Orange drew an 11th-seed in the Midwest, one of three double-digit seeds we’ll see in action on Saturday.

Orange, Cougars Meet for Just the Second Time

At least one more 10-seed or lower is guaranteed to be playing on the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend, with two more possible for the Sweet 16 round. Syracuse and Houston will cap off Saturday’s fixture with a late tip on TBS, and Cougars have been as 6½-point favorites at BetOnline. The scoreboard target is sitting on 140, and priced a bit to the ‘under.’

This will be just the second meeting between the Orange and Cougars, the other taking place way back in December 1982 at the Carrier Dome where Syracuse pulled off a mild 92-87 upset over Houston. The Cougars were ranked No. 9 at the time, and the loss was one of only two regular season defeats for them that season. Led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, Houston would eventually earn the No. 1 seed in the Midwest the following March, and fell in the championship game to Jim Valvano and NC State. Syracuse was a 6-seed in the East that year, and lost to No. 3 seed Ohio State in the second round.

A win Saturday would put the Cougars into the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984, that team falling to Georgetown in the NCAA Championship. The Orange are looking for their first Elite Eight appearance since 2016, Syracuse reaching the Final Four that season.

UH Shows Off Offensive Glasswork in First 2 Games

Kelvin Sampson’s crew had a relatively easy time dispatching No. 15 seed Cleveland State in the first round, leading wire-to-wire for the 87-56 final. Favored by 20½ on the NCAAB lines, the Cougars enjoyed a 12-point lead at halftime, then went on a 25-4 run early in the second half to leave no doubt about the outcome. They dominated on the glass, pulling down 16 offensive boards among their 38 rebounds, and committed just nine turnovers. A half-dozen Cougars scored in double figures, including three off the bench.

Houston didn’t have it nearly as easy in a second-round matchup with Rutgers, having to rally from 10 down in the second half for the 63-60 win. The Cougars, who were favored by 7½, held the 10th-seeded Scarlet Knights scoreless over the final 2:04 of the contest to avoid the upset. The game was physical from the opening tip, and offensive rebounds once again were critical to Houston’s victory.

‘Cuse Enters Contest on 6-Game ATS Run

A father-son show has gotten Syracuse into the Sweet 16, Jim Boeheim working the strategy from the bench while Buddy Boeheim has been finding the bucket with regularity. The Orange were modest 3-point underdogs at the best sports betting sites against No. 6 seed San Diego State in the opener and closed the first half on a 13-0 run to take control on their way to a 78-62 final. The younger Boeheim tallied a game-high 30, canning seven of his 10 tries from 3-point range.

March Madness

Syracuse was getting 4 against No. 3 seed West Virginia, and let a couple of 14-point leads in the first half dwindle to just a 2-point advantage late in the second. The Orange had to survive a furious rally effort by the Mountaineers before claiming the 75-72 decision. Buddy Boeheim scored 25 this time, 22 of them in the second half, and Syracuse shot nearly 52% for the game.

The only real injury concern on either side is Houston’s DeJon Jarreau. The 6-5 senior suffered a badly-bruised hip early in the win over Cleveland State, and was limping noticeably in the Rutgers game though he gutted it out and scored 17. I’ll jump on board the lower-seed theme with my NCAAB pick and take the Orange and the points.

NCAAB Pick: (visit our Sportsbook Review)

*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.