Last Updated: 2019-03-23
The Houston Cougars and The Ohio State University will meet on Sunday evening in Tulsa at the Bank of Oklahoma Center for the right to advance to the Sweet 16. Houston was expected to be here, while the Buckeyes pulled off an upset of Iowa State, but now face a Cougars team that is better defensively but can also get the job done on offense.
The Cougars opened as 5.5-point favorites and the line has remained steady despite Houston getting close to three-quarters of the early wagers, while the total is at 132, which is pretty close to the opening number and has seen good two-way betting.
Despite being in bordering states, Tulsa is nearly 500 miles from Houston, so the Cougars should have a bit of an advantage in the number of fans, but it won’t be huge, as Buckeye fans are everywhere and they also travel.
Ohio State was able to slow things down against Iowa State and won despite allowing 54.8% shooting by the Cyclones on 2-pointers but did hold Iowa State to 6 of 22 from 3-point range. The Buckeyes weren’t quite as good, hitting 47.4% from 2-point range and 5 of 20 on 3-pointers. Neither team attempted many foul shots, as the teams combined to go 18 for 24 in the game.
Houston began to pull away from Georgia State early on in the second half and turned a 40-31 halftime lead into a 30-point win, hitting 25 of 35 2-point attempts (71.4%) but did struggle from outside, going just 8 for 29 on 3-pointers. The Panthers hit a combined 30% of their field goal attempts.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes are a little better offensively than they receive credit for but aren’t going to be confused with Gonzaga or Tennessee when they have the ball. Ohio State prefers to slow things down and get the ball to their shooters regardless of how long it takes. The Buckeyes shoot a higher percentage than opponents allow but do score a little less due to their pace.
Ohio State holds foes to less than their scoring average, but pace does play a little bit of that. The Buckeyes are 4-9 when they allow 70 points or more so the importance of playing tough defense is magnified by a team that isn’t all that great when it comes to scoring.
Houston: The Cougars don’t really have a weakness on either side of the ball, and despite some impressive scoring numbers aren’t really an uptempo team, as they are ranked No. 252 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted pace ratings. All three of Houston’s losses came when the Cougars failed to score at least 70 points.
Houston is also solid on defense, holding teams to 11.1 fewer points than they average and limiting teams to less than 37% from the field and under 28% on 3-point attempts.
Game: Ohio State is going to play Ohio State basketball, meaning that the game will likely be a bit on the ugly side at times, but that’s when the Buckeyes are at their best. The Cougars may look to play a little more wide open, which they can certainly do, just to get the Buckeyes out of their comfort zone a little bit.
Pick: Ohio State +5.5
The Buckeyes played a much tougher schedule than the Cougars and saw some top-notch defensive teams during conference play and the Cougars aren’t any better than the likes of Michigan, Wisconsin or Michigan State, so the Buckeyes have some experience against the better defensive teams in the country. A game that could come down to the wire.
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