Virginia vs Houston Picks and Predictions: Cougars, Cavs Clamp Down

Both Houston and Virginia have long held their hats on playing defense, and we expect more of the same when these two programs tangle tonight. Our college basketball betting preview is heavily in favor of the Under — read on to see why.

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2021 10:50 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Marcus Sasser Houston Cougars
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers being unranked is a weird sight to see, dropping out of the Top 25 following a stunning season-opening loss to Navy. Virginia bounced back with a 21-point win against Radford, and now the Cavaliers will continue to try to climb back into the rankings with a matchup against the Houston Cougars.

Houston, like Virginia, is known for its defense and is 2-0, recently defeating Rice 79-46 after a season-opening OT win against Hofstra. While both teams started somewhat slowly, the Cougars don't have an ugly loss on their ledger, so college basketball betting odds have them as a 7.5-point home favorite tonight.

These two defenses will make offenses work a full 30 seconds to find a shot, with the total sitting at 123 — if you like defensive basketball, this game might be for you.

Here are our picks and predictions for Virginia vs. Houston on Tuesday, November 16.

Virginia vs Houston odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The Cougars opened up as an 8.5-point favorite but have since dropped to -7.5 at the time of writing. The total has also shifted from 124 at open to 123, although some outlets have flirted with 122, so be sure to line shop for the best odds. Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Virginia vs Houston predictions

Predictions made on 11/16/2021 at 9:04 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Virginia vs Houston game info

Location: Fertitta Center, Houston, TX
Date: Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET

Virginia at Houston betting preview


Virginia: None to report.
Houston: Tramon Mark G (Questionable).
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

Under is 4-1 in the Cougars' last five games as a favorite. Find more NCAA betting trends for Virginia vs. Houston.

Virginia vs Houston picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

This figures to be a low-volume game with limited possessions on both sides of the ball. Defense is the main focus with both of these teams and it’s been that way for a while.

Through two games, Virginia has uncharacteristically allowed opponents to shoot 41.5 percent from three and you’d figure the Cavaliers are going to work to keep that percentage from going higher moving forward — and the Cougars provide an interesting opportunity to do that. Through two games, Houston is shooting 37 percent from three, but just 47.4 percent from inside. On top of that, the Cougars are also shooting just 65.1 percent from the foul line.

On the other hand, Virginia is also struggling from the inside, shooting 44.4 percent inside the arc and 37.1 percent from long range. Houston has a knack for defending the three-ball well and has held opponents to 27 percent from long range in two games.

Neither team fouls all that much but both enjoy getting to the line at a solid pace, although with long possessions, fouls might be hard to come by.

The spread can really go either way, but Houston has a better chance of cashing in with better shooting and better defense around the perimeter. We’ll lean on the Cougars to cover here.

Prediction: Houston -7.5 (-110)

I love this Houston offense, led by Marcus Sasser and Kyler Edwards, but it’s going to be hard to score against Virginia tonight.

Neither team has been sharp on 2-point FGs and both defenses will likely put an emphasis on defending the perimeter — especially Virginia in a spot where it's lacked so far this season.

Opponents are using 19.6 seconds per possession against Virginia, while foes are using 19 seconds per possession against Houston. These teams make it extremely difficult to get good looks and quality shots up quickly.

Offensive rebounds will come into play as well, as both defenses haven’t done well crashing the boards, but still: If we’re getting just three shots up every 60 seconds, there’s a good chance this game hits the Under.

Prediction: Under 123 (-110)

This is a low number at 123, which itself will absolutely turn people away. However, knowing how both of these defenses operate, it seems likely neither team gets more than 60 points in this matchup.

Not only are these two defenses proficient at forcing offenses to be patient, but both Houston and Virginia are also in no rush offensively to get a shot, using at least 17 seconds per possession each.

Pick: Under 123 (-110)

College basketball parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed our Virginia vs. Houston picks, you could win $26.45 on a $10 bet?

Use our college basketball parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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