Rutgers vs Houston Odds and Picks

Justin Gorham

Houston forward Justin Gorham (4) puts up a shot during the second half of a first-round game against Cleveland State in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Friday, March 19, 2021, at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

  • 2-seed Houston is an 8.5-point favorite over 10-seed Rutgers in Midwest Region Second Round action on Sunday (March 21st)
  • The Cougars crushed Cleveland State by 31 in the First Round, while the Scarlet Knights got past Clemson by 4
  • See below for analysis, odds and a betting prediction

It may be only one game, and the competition may not have been top notch, but Houston certainly looks like a team capable of a deep March Madness run. The Midwest regionโ€™s 2-seed crushed Cleveland State by 31 points on Friday, and will now face 10-seed Rutgers in the Second Round on Sunday (March 21st).

Rutgers vs Houston Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Rutgers Scarlet Knights +8.5 (-105) OFF Over 132.5 (-110)
Houston Cougars -8.5 (-115) OFF Under 132.5 (-110)

Odds as of March 19th.

The Cougars opened up as an 8.5-point favorite, in a game that features a total of 132.5. Houston led from start to finish against the Vikings, building a 37-point second half lead and never looking back.

2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker

Cougars Crushing Recently

The victory was Houstonโ€™s eighth straight, which included an undefeated run to the AAC Championship. They havenโ€™t just been beating teams recently, theyโ€™ve been destroying them. Five of the Cougarsโ€™ victories over their winning streak have been by 24 or more points, with four of those coming by 30+.

Quentin Grimes led the way offensively versus Cleveland State, while Tramon Mark poured in 15, and Marcus Sasser added 14. Mark saw elevated playing time thanks to early injury staring guard DeJon Jarreau, who missed all but 41 seconds thanks to a hip issue. Jarreauโ€™s status for Sunday is unclear at the moment, but his absence would be a large blow. The fifth-year senior averaged 11 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and was the AAC defensive player of the year.

Even without Jarreau, Houston still dominated at the defensive end holding the Vikings to 38.6% from the field and 5-of-19 in the second half. The Cougars won the rebounding battle by 14 boards, and forced 14 turnovers en route to victory.

Rutgers Clips Clemson

The Scarlet Knights were the only lower seed to be favored on Friday and showed why by knocking off 7-seed Clemson. It wasnโ€™t pretty, but they got the job done by dominating the rebounding battle and playing suffocating defense. Rutgers held the Tigers to 35.6% from the field, forced 11 turnovers and blocked five shots.

Geo Baker, Jacob Young and Caleb McConnell all led the way offensively with 13, but despite having four players reach double-figures, the Scarlet Knights shot only 39% from the field. Nevertheless, it was good enough to score a victory, their first at the NCAA Tournament since 1983.

Defense is Rutgersโ€™ calling card and has been all season. They ranked fifth in the stacked Big Ten in points allowed and sixth in opponent field goal percentage. Shutting down Clemson was impressive, but trying to tame the Cougars will be a whole other beast.

Houstonโ€™s Hot Run Continues

Houston hasnโ€™t faced a daunting schedule this season by any means, but a 25-3 record with two wins over Memphis, plus victories against Wichita State, Boise State and Texas Tech is impressive nonetheless. Theyโ€™re scorching hot at the moment, and are one of the few programs in the nation that is elite at both ends of the court.

The Cougars rank sixth in adjusted offensive efficiency and 20th in defensive efficiency (per KenPom), and have been ATS crushers all season. Theyโ€™re 18-8 ATS overall, including 12-5 against the number in their last 17. The easily covered the 20-point spread against Cleveland State, and Rutgers simply wonโ€™t be able to keep pace with Houston for 40 minutes.

Pick: Houston Cougars -8.5 (-115)



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Chris Amberley

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