Home Free College Basketball Picks Final Four Betting Picks -- Houston's mission vs. Baylor: Hold onto the...

Final Four Betting Picks — Houston’s mission vs. Baylor: Hold onto the ball

The Houston Cougars have rewarded their coach, the much-maligned Kelvin Sampson, with their first trip to the Final Four since 1984. They don’t have anything like Phi Slamma Jamma going on right now (if you don’t understand that, ask your parents), but they might have the right stuff to take down the Baylor Bears in a Lone Star showdown with a berth in the national title game at stake.

Game time is 5:14 PM ET at Lucas Oil Stadium. And if you’re a BetAnySports customer, you will be able to place wagers while the game is in progress by accessing Sports Betting Prime.

NCAA Tournament – Final Four @ Indianapolis
HOUSTON COUGARS vs. BAYLOR BEARS, 5:15 PM ET (CBS)

Final Four Betting Odds: Baylor -5 / Total 134.5

Here we have a game between two teams that don’t necessarily put a lot of size in their respective starting lineups, but are among the top offensive rebounding squads in the nation. That means they are athletic, hustle and are well-coached.

Baylor is #1 in the nation in three-point accuracy at 41.1%. But they’ve been a little choppy in the tournament, as they’ve hit a little less than 36%. Perhaps they’re a bit susceptible to a team that can really get out to the perimeter and defend. Houston is that team; the Cougars have allowed only 29.2% from beyond the arc this season.

What Houston has to be mindful of is to defend without fouling. Their opponents have scored 24% of their points from the free throw line. We say that because the Bears can sometimes be an iffy proposition at the charity stripe (barely 70%).

What we’re wondering about is whether this may come down to who is able to defend their own glass better. Statistically, we know that Houston has been able to pull down a higher percentage of their opponents’ misses.

As we mentioned at the beginning, these teams don’t put a particularly big starting lineup out there. But they can both bring size off the bench. Baylor has a lot of energy with 6-9 Matthew Mayer (8.2 ppg in 15.5 minutes per game) and 6-8 Jonathan Tchatchoua. Houston can summon a trio of 6-8 people – Fabian White, Reggie Chaney and shot-blocker Brison Grisham.

Baylor, like Houston, has been stingy against three-point shooting teams, allowing just 26.8% from the arc in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are the team more reliant on triples, so that’s a matchup challenge.

Houston does indeed have a hot hand in Quentin Grimes, the All-American (and Kansas transfer) who has nailed just a shade under 50% of his three-point attempts over his last dozen games.

Part of Baylor’s defensive game is to force turnovers. They have been able to do that against opponents who generally take care of the ball pretty well – Wisconsin (14), Villanova (16) and Arkansas (15). We can expect that Houston will cough it up a little, although in their defense we must say that the Cougars have committed just 37 miscues in four games in Indianapolis.

If we had seen Baylor shoot more consistently from downtown in this tourney, the Bears would have looked practically unbeatable (with Gonzaga the exception of course). But Houston has a chance to keep them off-balance, enough for us to recommend taking the points.

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