Houston vs. Auburn odds, prediction, betting trends for 2023 March Madness Round of 32 matchup
In one of the better games of round two, top-seeded Houston meets ninth-seeded Auburn on Saturday night (7:10 p.m. ET, TBS). The Cougars, No. 1 at KenPom and No. 2 in the latest AP poll, will be looking for their fourth straight Sweet 16 but could be without star guard Marcus Sasser due to a groin injury. They also essentially play a de facto road game, as the NCAA wrongly placed Auburn in the bracket’s region, which plays in Birmingham, a two-hour drive from the Tigers’ home base. We have all the odds, trends and betting predictions to prepare you for an amazing second round fight.
Houston defeated 16-man Northern Kentucky 63-52 in a game that was a little too close for coach Kelvin Sampson. Sampson had to draw Sasser at half-time after his top scorer appeared to be aggravating his groin injury, leading to some nail-biting for Cougar Nation as their squad led just 30-27 at the break. Houston finally pulled away late in the second half and led the frame 33-25 for a 63-52 win, but this hardly looked like the team that had been on their way to a 32-3 record all season dominated.
Auburn, seeded ninth, also had a close shave in the first round, although the atmosphere basically reflected a home game for the lucky Tigers. Bruce Pearl’s squad edged out eighth-place Iowa 83-75, with the Tigers overcoming a 49-point surge from the Hawkeyes with 52 of their own in the second half. Winning with full team grit-and-grind on both sides of the floor, Auburn has the kind of depth that could cause some problems for a Sasser-less Cougars team.
Will we see another stunner at the start of the tournament? Here’s everything you need to know about betting on Houston vs. Auburn in the 2023 NCAA tournament, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for this round of 32 matches.
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Houston vs Auburn Odds
- spread: Houston -5.5 (-110) | Maroon +5.5 (-110)
- About Below: OVER 131.5 (-110); BELOW 131.5 (-110)
- money line: Houston-250 | Maroon +200
The oddsmakers have faith in the Cougars’ track record both this season and in the last few NCAA tournaments. Before they even heard an update on Sasser, the sportsbook had favored Houston out of six. The total strikes us as even more surprising since both teams are pretty good defensively, but Houston has averaged 74.7 points this season while Auburn has averaged 73 points.
Three betting trends to keep an eye on
— Auburn went 3-1 against the spread against ranked opponents this season.
– Auburn and Houston each rode just 9-8 ATS together on the road and at neutral venues this season.
– The OVER went 20-13 in Auburn’s games this season but only 16-19 in Houston’s.
Houston’s key player
With Sasser on the shelf, this is Jarace Walker’s team. Walker, a predicted lottery pick, may be the best defensive player in the NCAA, but he can also lose 16 to 25 points relatively easily. Houston also has J’wan Roberts, a constant double-double threat wreaking havoc in the small forward position, and guard Jamal Shead, who acts as a playmaker and goalscorer. The Cougars are doing very well without Sasser, but obviously not nearly as elite as when he’s healthy. If what we’re hearing about Shead’s knees now is true, it could be a long night out in Birmingham for this No1.
Key figures of Auburn
Big man Johni Broome, an imposing figure on the inside, recorded his 10th double-double of the season in Thursday’s win against Northern Kentucky. He also hit some clutch free throws to cement the win, proving the moment is not too big for the 20-year-old forward. Auburn also enjoyed complementary efforts from “the others” (as Shaq calls them). Guard Allen Flanigan had 10 points, 10 boards and four assists. Wendell Green Jr., Jaylin Wiliams and KD Johnson also hit double digits, as did freshman guard Tre Donaldson, who hit three triples.
Best Individual Matchup: Jarace Walker vs. Johni Broome
We’d like to get more creative here, but these two are the crème de la crème of this game when Sasser is seated. They’re similar in size — Walker weighs 6-8,240 pounds with a wingspan of 7-2, while Broome is listed at 6-10,235 pounds. The big men should be physically down early and often in this game.
Houston vs. Auburn stats to get you started
56.4. How many points per game Houston has dropped this season. The Cougars were the only team in the nation to finish in the top six in both offense and defense that year.
DeCourcy (Alabama) | Bender (Kansas) | Fagan (Marquette) | Pohnl (Kansas)
Houston vs Auburn Prediction
Auburn has a very good opportunity to add to the second round surprise. The Tigers have a strong, athletic rotation and basically play in their backyard. Houston, who at times struggled with just 16 seeds from a low-major, could do without Sasser, and apparently Sampson is “very worried” over Shead’s knees. We could do a two-way teaser with Auburn’s spread and the OVER, but we’ll most likely just bet on the Tigers’ spread and hope for more history.
Forecast: Maroon 72, Houston 69. Maroon (+5.5) wins directly and the OVER hits with ease (131.5).
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