The 11-seed Syracuse Orange (18-9) return to the Sweet 16 to take on the 2-seed Houston Cougars (26-3) on Saturday night. Both of these teams escaped the Round of 32 with narrow victories over their opponents.
Saturday night’s tipoff is set for 9:55 pm ET inside Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. Houston is a 6-point favorite over the Orange, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Syracuse Orange
Syracuse is back in the Sweet 16 for the 24th time in school history and the fifth time in the last decade. The Orange pulled off a pair of upsets over the opening weekend, with victories over the 6-seed San Diego State (78-62) and the 3-seed West Virginia Mountaineers (75-72). Syracuse was an at-large bid into the tournament after finishing eighth in the ACC standings.
The Orange average 75.9 points per game on 44.7% shooting from the floor and 35.4% shooting beyond the arc. Syracuse’s notorious zone defense holds opponents to 70.4 points per game while teams shoot 41.1% from the field and 31.9% from deep.
In Sunday’s victory over the Mountaineers, the Orange shot an effective 51.9% (27-of-52) from the field, with junior guard Buddy Boeheim leading the way with 25 points. Syracuse was also effective from deep, connecting on 45.2% (14-of-31) of their three-point attempts.
Syracuse is 14-13 against the spread this season with a 6-0 mark ATS in their last six contests. The Orange are 4-0 ATS in neutral site games and 4-7 as an underdog.
What to Know – Houston Cougars
Houston returns to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season and 12th time in school history. After a route of Cleveland State (87-56) in the opening round, the Cougars made a late comeback to take down Rutgers (63-60) in the Round of 32. The Cougars finished second in the American Conference but won the AAC Tournament to capture the automatic bid.
Houston scores 77.4 points per game while shooting 44.3% from the field and 35.8% from three. The Cougars’ defense surrenders 57.9 points per game and allows teams to shoot 37.3% from the floor and 28.3% from the three-point line.
Junior guard Quentin Grimes (22 points) and senior guard DeJon Jarreau (17 points) combined to account for 39 of the Cougars’ 63 points in Sunday’s victory over the Scarlet Knights. Houston was all over the offensive glass, snagging 16 offensive rebounds against Rutgers.
The Cougars are 20-9 ATS on the year and 6-4 over their last ten. Houston sports a 4-2 record ATS on neutral courts and a 25-3 record as a favorite.
The Pick is In
Houston will have to contain Syracuse’s outside shooting if they want to have a chance to move on to the Elite Eight. The Cougars will need to be patient and get the smart shots in the zone, but when Houston is hitting their shots, they are almost unstoppable.
This will be a fun and entertaining game for college basketball fans. Syracuse will keep this close and cover the spread.
The Pick: Syracuse Orange +6