Saint Mary’s vs. Houston Odds, Picks | NCAAB Betting Guide
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images. Pictured: Marcus Sasser (Houston)
Saint Mary’s vs. Houston Odds
|Saint Mary’s Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Two of the slowest and best programs in the country align Saturday night for the top game of the slate.
Houston is now first in the AP Poll and second on KenPom. Even with a close call against Kent State (49-44), the Cougars are poised for a deep NCAA tournament run this season.
The Gaels are coming off of two straight losses — one to Washington in overtime (yuck!) and the other to New Mexico, which has itself an intriguing team this season under Richard Pitino.
Houston is clearly better squad in this matchup, so this is where the Gaels need to bring their best.
However, the best projected outcome of this game is few possessions and few points. Houston ranks 342nd in Adjusted Tempo (per KenPom) while the Gaels rank 314th.
In addition, both of these teams prosper defensively and lack a bit offensively, especially on the Gaels’ end of the court.
The under has value at open and will drop progressively until tip-off.
Saint Mary’s is still ranked in KenPom’s top-30, so hopefully those two losses (Washington, New Mexico) do not hurt it too much in the long term.
When competing with Houston, the Gaels will need to hit their 3s. Houston is only allowing opponents to shoot 18.5% from deep and 39.3% from 2-point range this season.
Saint Mary’s equally scores amongst 2s and 3s, but it shoots under 50% inside the arc. From distance, though, the Gaels are hitting nearly 40%.
It’s going to be unbearably tough for the Gaels to find an open look, especially since they already play Houston’s game.
Photo by CBB Analytics
One weakness the Cougars have is defensive rebounding. On the year, they rank 223rd in allowed offensive rebounding percentage, while the Gaels rank sixth in that metric.
That said, the Gaels come in at 104th in offensive rebounding — the Cougars rank fourth — so that edge is mostly negated.
Saint Mary’s has one more edge, and that is not fouling on the defensive end. This is mainly conducive to the aggression Houston plays with, but the Cougars rank 184th in free-throw attempt percentage on the defensive end.
Unfortunately, the Gaels only get to the line 31.6% of the time, which is about NCAA average.
Expect Saint Mary’s to have a little advantage here, but since it shoots only a collective 63.7% from the charity strike, it could be its own enemy.
Because both of these defenses rank in the top 10, Houston has an enormous advantage on the offensive side.
As pointed out above, the Cougars likely are not going to haul in offensive rebounds like they are used to. Kyle Bowen and Mitchell Saxen will battle on the glass and steal some from the usual boards from Jarace Walker and J’Wan Roberts.
Houston may manufacture fewer free-throw attempts than the Gaels, but it can score the ball inside-and-out.
Tramon Mark, Jamal Shead, Terrance Arceneaux, Marcus Sasser and Walker all shoot well from the outside. They can exploit Saint Mary’s issues, as the Gaels allow opponents to hit 34.5% of their 3s.
Meanwhile, Saint Mary’s is unbelievably efficient when defending inside the arc — only permitting opponents to shoot 41.1% — so Houston will mainly only have scoring opportunities from 3.
Photo by CBB Analytics
Saint Mary’s vs. Houston Betting Pick
With Houston truly only being able to score on deep balls, there are not going to be too many points scored in this ball game.
Saint Mary’s will struggle to find open looks, and neither team thrives from the free-throw line.
Both tempos are so methodical that there will not be many trips down the floor, either.
Back the two top-10 defenses to do their due diligence, and take the under at 117.5 (-110). Play it to 114 (-110).