Baylor Bears vs. Houston Cougars – NCAAM Final Four Betting Pick

NCAA Tournament – Final Four

No. 3 Baylor (26-2, 13-1) vs. No. 6 Houston (28-3, 14-3)

  • Time: 2:14PM PST | 4:14PM CST | 5:14PM EST
  • Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
  • TV: CBS

Opening Tip

Houston’s Final Four matchup with Baylor is the first time two teams from Texas have met in the Final Four.

This is the Cougars’ sixth appearance in the Final Four and the first since 1984 while it is Baylor’s third Final Four and first since 1950.

The Cougars come in with 11 wins in a row as Houston has won 13 of its last 14 and the Bears have won eight out of their last nine.

Houston leads this series, 38-15, as the Cougars and Bears last played in 2002-03 when the Bears took a 62-60 win at Reliant Stadium in the Space Coast Classic. The two teams were staunch rivals in the days of the old Southwest Conference.

Vs. The Spread

Houston:

  • The Cougars are 14-6 ATS in their lsat 20 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Houston’s last 6 matchups vs. the Big 12
  • The UNDER has also been the play in 4 of the last 5 games where the Cougars have been the underdog

Baylor:

  • The OVER has been the play in 13 of the last 16 games when the Bears are playing as the favorite
  • Keep in mind these two teams haven’t met in 18 seasons, but the OVER has been the play in 13 of the last 16 games between the Bears and Cougars
  • Baylor is 18-2 SU in it’s last 20 games
Kudos, Coach Sampson:

The natural laws are being exacted in college basketball as Houston coach Kelvin Sampson is back in the Final Four. Sampson was given a show-cause by the NCAA at Indiana for five years over extra phone calls and text messages in another show of selective enforcement by the NCAA in 2008.

The ridiculousness of another lack of thought and empathy from the NCAA was that it erased this nonsensical “law” from their overwrought books, but refused to reinstate Sampson. He took his talents to the NBA where he worked as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks, and Houston Rockets and he totally adjusted in his career and here he is on college basketball’s last weekend.

Last Time Out

Houston won another “grind it out” contest over Oregon State, 67-61, on Monday as the Cougars’ Quentin Grimes broke a 55-55 tie with a three with 3:21 to play. The Cougars shot 29 percent from three in the second half and 32 percent from the floor, but their solid defense and rebounding acumen placed them in the Final Four for the first time in 38 years. Marcus Sasser led Houston with 20 points and Grimes netted 18.

Baylor fought off numerous Arkansas runs as the Bears stopped the Razorbacks, 81-72, in the Elite Eight. MaCio Teague eld the Bears with 22 points and Jared Butler checked in with 14. The difference was on the three-point line as the Bears made eight triples while Arkansas was 3-of-11. The Razorbacks outrebounded the Bears, 34-29.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Baylor +5 (-110) +185 O 134.5 (-110)
Houston -5 (-110) -215 U 134.5 (-110)

Advantage, Houston

Houston Cougars LogoHouston is numero uno in the nation in effective defensive field goal efficiency, per kenpom, while Baylor in seventh in effective field goal percentage and third in adjusted offensive efficiency. The hard-nosed mentality will be of major importance in how the Cougars choose to work to stop Baylor’s transition game and how they find its three-point shots as the Bears make 41.1 percent of their treys to lead college basketball while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor. The Cougs hold opponents to 37.3 percent and 28.3 percent from three.

Key Cougars Stat:

Quentin Grimes has been a consistent presence all year on offense as he is such a catalyst in averaging 18 points per game and shooting 41.3 percent from three. As the season has unfolded, he has proven to put the Cougs on his back and carry them through times when there are valleys in the offensive attack during games. He has averaged 19 points per game over his last six games.

X-Factor:

Marcus Sasser (13.5 ppg) and DeJon Jarreau (10.8 ppg) join Grimes as the double figures scorers for Houston. Jarreau is the defensive stopped with his length and we may seen him defend different Bears, according to who may have the hot hand. Sasser is second to Grimes in made threes with 73 as Grimes has 99. The duo have taken 464 of Houston’s 804 three-point attempts.

Advantage, Baylor

Baylor Bears LogoThe Bears’ defense is no slouch either as they sit at 28th in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Bears are going to have to get on the boards and rebound with the Cougars at an even higher clip than their (+3.8) per night. Houston’s aggression and physicality on the boards is staggering as the Cougars are a (+9.4) where they snag 40.9 rebounds per game and about 14.5 of those are on the offensive glass. Mark Vital (6.7 rpg) against Houston’s Justin Gorham (8.7 rpg) is a matchup on the glass that can go a long way in deciding this game.

Key Bears Stat:

Coach Scott Drew and his Bears will look to get Jared Butler rolling once again on offense. Int he last two games against Villanova and Arkansas as he is only 8-of-25 from the floor and 3-of-12 from three. Butler scored 11.5 points per game in those two, so Butler has to have an offensive presence against potentially the toughest defense in the nation.

X-Factor:

Davion Mitchell is the toughest on-ball defender and he also is the fastest player on this team. His matchup on potentially Quentin Grimes will be a story as well. Mitchell is the total package and a spark plug on offense as he shoots 45.3 percent from three and 52.3 percent overall. He leads the Bears with 149 assists and is one of the best decision makers in the game.

Winner: Houston (+5) 64, Baylor 62

The Bets
Houston Cougars +5
-110
Houston Cougars
+185
UNDER 134.5
-110
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.

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