Houston vs. Ohio State Betting Guide: Can Buckeyes Pull Off Another NCAA Tournament Upset?

Houston vs. Ohio State Betting Guide: Can Buckeyes Pull Off Another NCAA Tournament Upset? article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Houston guard Corey Davis Jr., Ohio State forward Kaleb Wesson

#3 Houston vs. #11 Ohio State: NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Houston -5.5
  • Over/Under: 132.5
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 8:40 p.m. ET
  • TV: TNT
  • Location: Tulsa, Okla.

>> All odds as of Saturday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


The Cougars (21-12-2 against the spread) snapped a two-game losing skid ATS with a 29-point thrashing of Georgia State in the Round of 64. On the flip side, the Buckeyes (15-19 ATS) have covered in three straight contests — the last one resulting in an outright upset victory over 3-seeded Iowa State.

Where’s the value in this Round of 32 duel, and can Ohio State deliver another surprising straight-up win? Let’s breakdown the matchup.

The Kaleb Wesson Factor

When the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Wesson (14.6 points per game) has scored at least 17 points in conference and postseason play, the Buckeyes boast 5-2 mark — outright and ATS. He wrecked the Iowa State’s frontcourt to the tune of a 21-point, 12-rebound effort on Friday.

Wesson has the offensive prowess to take over games, but he can also pull Ohio State right out of them.

In the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals against Michigan State, Wesson was tagged for a flagrant foul with the score tied at 40. The Spartans then ballooned their lead to double figures before Wesson tacked on two silly fouls that sent him to the bench for good.

Houston’s Stifling Defense

Not only will the Cougars’ front line of Breaon Brady and Fabian White present a more physical matchup for Wesson than Iowa State, but their 12th-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (91.5 opponents’ points per 100 possessions) should generate enough issues for OSU’s inconsistent offense (69.4 points per game — No. 248 in the country).

Chris Holtmann’s scoring is well-distributed across the board, but it accumulated the third-highest perimeter scoring rate (33.2%) in league play — despite shooting 32.1% from that vicinity.

Kelvin Sampson’s unit has allowed the second-lowest 3-point clip (27.5%) in the nation, along with a below-average 30.7% scoring rate. Houston doesn’t force a bulk of turnovers, which Ohio State struggles with (18.7% clip), but its ball pressure via trapping Wesson should disrupt the Buckeyes’ flow.

Keep in mind, the Cougars have allowed the fifth-lowest 2-point clip (42.7%) in the country, too.

Matching Up on the Perimeter

Despite Houston tallying a below-average Adjusted Tempo (66.2 possessions per 40 minutes), it’ll aim to push and gun it from the perimeter at times, as well.

Sampson’s troops have accrued the 69th-highest defensive rebounding rate (25.8%) in the sport. Expect them to own the glass against the Buckeyes’ below-average offensive rebounding rate while generating mismatches in the open floor.

The Cougars have accrued the 70th-highest 3-point scoring rate (36.3%), led by Armoni Brooks (38.8%), Dejon Jarreau (38.7%) and Corey Davis Jr. (38.2%) — their three leading scorers. They’ve also amassed the 18th-highest offensive rebounding rate (34.8%), many of which are tallied via their long perimeter misses. Houston was plus-24 on the glass in its 39-point win over Georgia State on Friday.

Ohio State allowed the sixth-highest 3-point clip (33.6%) in conference play, as its defense got exposed once it began facing legitimate perimeter shooting threats.

Iowa State’s poor 3-point shooting (27.3%) was a product of its inability to control the pace. Houston won’t deal with the same issues in the Round of 32, as it’ll enact revenge after losing to Michigan in the same spot last season.

Eli’s Pick: Houston -5.5, but I wouldn’t bet it past Houston -6.5

Our Projected Odds: Houston vs. Ohio State

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Houston -4
  • Over/Under: 128.5
  • Score: Houston 66.5 | Ohio State 62.5
  • Win Probability: Houston 64% | Ohio State 36%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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