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Houston Cougars vs. Baylor Bears Betting Preview

Two teams from the state of Texas meet up in Game 1 of the NCAA Tournament Final Four on Saturday. The Houston Cougars (28-3), 2-seed from the Midwest Region, takes on the Baylor Bears (26-2), the top seed from the South. Saturday’s tipoff is at 5:14 EST inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. You can view the game nationally on CBS or via the March Madness app on your mobile device. Baylor is a 5-point favorite against the Cougars, according to oddsmakers.

What to Know – Houston Cougars

Houston is making their sixth appearance in the Final Four and first since 1984 when they made three-straight trips. The Cougars knocked off four double-digit seeds to get here. Head Coach Kelvin Sampson makes a return after taking the Oklahoma Sooners to the Final Four in 2004.

The Cougars average 76.6 points per game on 43.7% shooting from the floor and 35.4% shooting from the three-point line. Houston’s defense allows 57.6 points and holds opponents to 37.3% shooting from the field and 28.3% shooting from three.

Houston built up a 17-point halftime advantage over Oregon State and held off a second-half charge by the Beavers to punch their ticket to the Final Four. Marcus Sasser (20 points) and Quentin Grimes (18 points) combined to score 28 of Houston’s 67 points. The Cougars attacked the offensive glass, finishing with a 19-7 advantage on the offensive glass.

This season Houston is 21-10 against the spread and 14-6 over their last 20 games. The Cougars are 1-0 ATS in games as an underdog and 5-3 ATS this season in neutral-site contests.

What to Know – Baylor Bears

Baylor was most likely a top seed heading into last season’s tournament before the pandemic shutdown March Madness. Scott Drew and company preserved and now have that Final Four team for the first time since 1950.

The Bears‘ uptempo offense pours in 83.0 points per game, behind 48.6% shooting from the field and 41.1% shooting from beyond the arc. Baylor surrenders 65.5 points on defense, while teams shoot 43.2% from the floor and 33.0% from deep.

Baylor led wire-to-wire in the Elite Eight victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas committed 15 turnovers and went cold from the outside, shooting just 3-of-11 from deep. Baylor, meanwhile, went 8-of-15 from the arc led by MaCio Teague, who connected on three treys. Teague was the Bears leading scorer with 22 points.

Baylor is 18-10 ATS and an even 5-5 in their last ten games. The Bears are 26-2 ATS as favorites and post a 6-3 mark in neutral-site battles.

The Pick is In

This should be a fun battle of two former Southwest Conference rivals. The two teams haven’t played each other since 2003. These teams can score and play defense, so it will come down to which team is making their shots and protecting the basketball. Baylor’s depth and talent will be too much for the Cougars in the second half, and the Bears will pull away late in a 76-68 victory.

The Pick: Baylor Bears -5

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