Saint Mary's vs Houston Odds, Picks and Predictions: Points at a Premium

Houston's looking to defend its No. 1 ranking against St. Mary's tonight, and a slow pace, paired with the Cougars' suffocating brand of defense, will spell a low-scoring effort. Find out more with our college basketball betting picks.

Last Updated: Dec 3, 2022 9:55 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
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Game 2 of The Battleground 2k22 Presented by Basketball University features the 6-1 Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. the No. 1-ranked and 7-0 Houston Cougars. 

Saint Mary’s is looking to shake a two-game losing streak, while Houston smashed Norfolk State 100-52 for its seventh consecutive victory. 

Who will win tonight’s contest? Find out in our free Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. Houston Cougars college basketball picks and predictions for Saturday, December 3.

Saint Mary's vs Houston best odds

Saint Mary's vs Houston picks and predictions

The contest opened at 115.5, and that number has risen to 118.5 as of Saturday morning. We should always consider a significant market move — the total jumped quickly. 115.5 was too low, but the market may have over-adjusted.

Both schools score into the 70s and above, but each plays an offense well below the college-average tempo, which usually means a lower-scoring game. These teams only scored as much as they have because neither side has played a KenPom-rated team lower than 41. 

The Gaels are a good 3-point side, with 32% of their points coming from the long ball. They have an effective field goal percentage of 52%, with one of the worst free-throw percentages in the country. Saint Mary’s is a slightly better-than-average offensive-rebounding team and the nation's 44th-tallest team.

Houston is the country's top team and also one of its youngest. The Cougars are above-average shooting from beyond the arc and boast a No. 54-ranked effective field goal percentage. The Cougars score 31% of their points from downtown, fourth in offensive rebounding percentage, and are one of the nation's shorter teams.

Saturday marks the most challenging game for either side to date, and the young fellas will be excited to play in a lovely event against a good team on national TV. These schools take care of the ball, but they’ll be nervous, and that causes some early mistakes. 

Both teams play plodding tempos, but both defenses have high steal rates, and we will see a few more turnovers than usual. We have good rebounding sides, which will eliminate some of the putbacks these teams have enjoyed. KenPom views both defenses favorably, with the Cougars having the second-ranked team on Pomeroy’s list. 

Finally, Saturday's contest will be played at a snail's pace between two solid teams on both ends of the floor. But Houston has the superior defense, and will overwhelm the Gaels' attack. The Cougars are also young and defending their No. 1 ranking, so execution on offense may not be as sharp. The slow pace, the nerves, and the market move all point in one direction.

My best bet: Under 118.5 (-110 at Caesars)

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Saint Mary's vs Houston spread analysis

DraftKings opened the game at Houston -7.5, which is now 10.5 at many shops. While we await the Jarace Walker news, I would lean towards taking the points and rolling with Saint Mary’s +10.5.

The pressure is squarely on the Cougars’ slender shoulders. They are undefeated, ranked No. 1, and while this game isn’t far from Hosuton’s campus, it’s still technically a neutral site.

Senior guard Alex Ducas leads the Gaels in scoring and comes off a 25-point night in their loss to New Mexico. Junior center Mitchell Saxon is averaging nearly a double-double, and senior guard Logan Johnson is averaging 10 points with five boards and leads the team in assists.

Senior guard Marcus Sasser leads Houston in scoring and knocked down 25 points with four assists and a couple of steals in the Cougars' victory over Norfolk State. Frosh Jarace Walker leads the team in rebounds but is questionable for this tilt, and junior guard Jamal Shead leads Houston in assists.

Saint Mary’s is 99th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.099), while Houston is 40th (1.321).

The Gaels are 4-4 ATS and 1-1 this season on a neutral court. The Cougars are 6-1 ATS overall and 1-0 ATS on neutral courts. 

Saint Mary's vs Houston Over/Under analysis

That number keeps moving, but we’re looking to cover the Under 118.5.

Houston leads the nation in points allowed (48) with a suffocating, full-court  defense. Saint Mary’s is 20th in points allowed (57.5) and 10th in defensive efficiency at KenPom. 

Both offenses shoot well into the clock — the Gaels average 19.3 seconds per possession and the Cougars fire away at 18.30 seconds. For context, the national average is 17.3 seconds. Paired with a lack of outstanding three-point guns and bad shooting from the charity stripe, it doesn’t lend itself to much scoring. 

The Over is 4-4 through Saint Mary’s eight games and 2-0 at neutral locations, while the Over is 2-5 in the Cougars' last seven. 

Saint Mary's vs Houston betting trend to know

The Under is 8-2 in Cougars' last 10 overall. Find more College basketball betting trends for Saint Mary's vs. Houston.

Saint Mary's vs Houston game info

Location: Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, TX
Date: Saturday, December 3, 2022
Tip-off: 9:30 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2

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