A Round of 32 matchup in the Midwest Region of our March Madness picks will see the No. 9 seed Auburn Tigers face off with the top-seeded Houston Cougars on Saturday.
Auburn confidently took care of business on Thursday with a 83-75 win over Iowa on Thursday night. The Tigers won the first half with defense and the second half with offense, scoring 52 points in the second half.
Meanwhile, Houston struggled to finally put away 16-seed Northern Kentucky on Thursday night. The Cougars were up by only five points with just over four minutes to go in the game before ultimately pulling away.
Can the Tigers pull off the upset over a hobbled Cougars squad that remains a tournament favorite according to March Madness odds? Find out in our college basketball picks and predictions for Auburn vs. Houston on March 18.
Auburn vs Houston best odds
Auburn vs Houston picks and predictions
For the most part, Auburn lived up to many of their season averages on Thursday night. They played excellent 3-point defense, forcing a great shooting team in Iowa to convert just 7/27 attempts from downtown.
Birmingham also presented a nice home-court advantage, and the Tigers will be afforded a similar advantage on Saturday night.
Despite prevailing in Round 1, Houston will likely be without star player Marcus Sasser after he reinjured his groin injury on Thursday night. The Cougars' offense flows through Sasser, as the AAC Player of the Year averaged 16.7 points and 3.1 assists per game this season.
To add salt to the wound, starting guard Jamal Shead hyperextended his knee on Thursday. Shead is fully expected to play for Houston but certainly won't be at 100%. Shead played an important factor for the Cougars on Thursday, scoring 13 points and adding six assists against Northern Kentucky.
The hobbled Cougars allowed 18 offensive rebounds to the Norse on Thursday night. That is bad news as they are about to face a Tigers team that averages 9.8 offensive boards per game. Auburn forward Johni Broome had four offensive rebounds on Thursday night and should get plenty of opportunities on the glass in this one.
Without a healthy roster, Houston is quite vulnerable. Northern Kentucky missed several open threes late on a Thursday and a better team would have knocked the Cougars out.
That team will be Auburn on Saturday night.
My best bet: Auburn +5.5 (-110 at FanDuel)
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Auburn vs Houston spread analysis
Houston’s defensive strength revolves around its ability to force turnovers and shoot bad shots. However, without Sasser, they allowed Memphis to score 75 points and shoot 50.9% from the field. The Tigers also only turned the ball over 10 times.
Northern Kentucky only turned the ball over seven times on Thursday night and missed a ton of open 3-pointers. Auburn does not often turn it over often, averaging 12.3 per game on the season and turning it over only seven times against Iowa. If the Tigers hit their shots, they will have an excellent upset opportunity here.
The Tigers are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven NCAA Tournament games. The Cougars are 1-4 ATS in their last five neutral site games and 1-6 ATS in their last seven games overall. They are also 1-5 ATS in their last six games against a team with a winning record.
Auburn has been a model of inconsistency over the last two months. They went from scoring 94 points against Georgia to putting up 43 against Tennessee three days later. However, they have been strong offensively for four consecutive games now.
Even when they lose, it's a close game, so I still love them to cover the spread.
Auburn vs Houston Over/Under analysis
Both teams are typically stronger on defense than they are on offense, but with injuries, things have changed. Houston allowed 75 points to Memphis on Sunday and Auburn has allowed at least 70 points in six consecutive games. This total opened at a low number of 131.5.
The Over is 8-2 in the Tigers' last 10 games following an ATS win and 4-0 in their last four games overall. It is also 4-1 in the Tigers' last five neutral site games and 6-2 in their last eight NCAA Tournament games. Without Sasser, the Memphis game went Over the 135-point total with 140 points combined between the two teams.
Auburn has its offense rolling and the Cougars showed on Thursday that teams can get open looks against them when they aren’t healthy. The Tigers will be able to score and Houston may have to go away from their typical style to win this one.
I lean towards the Over here.
Auburn vs Houston betting trend to know
The Cougars are 1-5 ATS in their last six games following a win. Find more college basketball betting trends for Auburn vs. Houston.
Auburn vs Houston game info
|Location:||Legacy Arena at BJCC, Birmingham, AL|
|Date:||Saturday, March 18, 2023|
|Tip-off:||7:10 p.m. ET|