Houston vs. Duke Odds, Picks, and Predictions

Written by: Bryan Zarpentine
Published March 29, 2024
5 min read
  • Duke is 5-1 in its last six trips to the Sweet 16.

  • Houston has won 13 of its last 14 games.

  • Duke has allowed 102 total points over two tournament games while Houston allowed 95 points in the Round of 32.

Friday's Sweet 16 schedule in the South Region includes the top-seeded Houston Cougars facing the no. 4 Duke Blue Devils. The Cougars have been one of the top teams in the country all season and find themselves in the Sweet 16 for the fifth straight NCAA Tournament. However, they are looking to avenge last season’s loss to another ACC opponent at this stage in the tournament. Of course, the Blue Devils are also familiar with the Sweet 16 and find themselves two wins away from their second trip to the Final Four in the last three years.

March Madness 2024 Houston vs Duke

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Houston vs. Duke Predictions

Houston Preview

The Cougars had won 11 straight games before a puzzling blowout loss at the hands of Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament. Despite a lopsided win over Longwood in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, there are questions about Houston heading into the Sweet 16. The Cougars blew a lead in the Round of 32 against Texas A&M, needing overtime to advance.

The most troubling part of Houston’s win over Texas A&M was the team’s defense. The Cougars allowed fewer than 58 points per game during the season but allowed the Aggies to score 95 points against them. If the Cougars can’t recapture the defensive prowess that has defined them all season, they could have a hard time beating quality opponents.

In fairness, Houston has plenty of offensive firepower. L.J. Cryer and Emanuel Sharp are both exceptional shooters while point guard Jamal Shead helps to make the Houston offense flow, averaging 6.4 assists per game. Despite their surprising defensive shortcomings in the Round of 32, the Cougars still managed to score 100 points, so they’re capable of scoring at a high rate if necessary.

Duke Preview

The Blue Devils faltered late in the regular season, losing three of their last six games, including an early exit in the ACC Tournament. But they have been one of the most impressive teams during the NCAA Tournament. They dispatched Vermont without much trouble and barely broke a sweat in a 93-55 win over James Madison in the Round of 32.

On paper, Duke has all of the pieces needed to continue to make a deep tournament run. Kyle Filipowski is one of the best post players left in the tournament, giving the Blue Devils 16.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He also gets plenty of help inside from Mark Mitchell, who averages 12.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, and Ryan Young, another serviceable big man.

Meanwhile, the Duke backcourt brings plenty to the table as well. Both Jeremy Roach and Jared McCain average 14 points per game and shoot over 40% from the perimeter. Tyrese Proctor remains an underrated but important part of the equation as well, leading the Blue Devils in assists while also averaging 10.9 points per game.

Houston vs. Duke Pick

DraftKings is currently listing Houston as a four-point favorite Duke in the Sweet 16, so a close game is expected. Based on their track record throughout the season, the Cougars deserve to be favored in this matchup. However, they are also just 4-5 against the spread in their last nine games. Houston’s defensive issues in the Round of 32 also raise a red flag.

On the other hand, the Blue Devils have been nothing short of impressive in their first two tournament games. It’s worth mentioning that Duke has played a pair of double-digit seeds, so taking on the top-seeded Cougars will be a huge step up in competition. However, the Blue Devils look ready and have the kind of balanced offensive attack that could give Houston trouble. That makes it worth betting on Duke as a four-point underdog on Friday night.

  • Pick: Duke +4 at DraftKings Sportsbook

How to Watch Houston vs. Duke

  • When: 9:39 PM EST on Friday, March 29

  • Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

  • TV: CBS

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Bryan Zarpentine

Sports Betting Analyst

Expertise:
MLB
NCAAB
NFL
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Arts
Favourite Sportsbook: BetMGM Sportsbook
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Experience:
14 years
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