The Houston Cougars could be on upset alert when they face the Northern Kentucky Norse in the First Round of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Here, we look at odds and props for this March Madness contest in Birmingham, and offer a Houston vs. Northern Kentucky prediction.
The potential absence of Houston All-American guard Marcus Sasser has opened the opportunity for a first-round surprise. The Cougars have high stakes at play with the NCAA Final Four being hosted in their city.
Only once has a 16th seed been victorious over a top seed, and bettors have a keen eye to look for that next rare instance during March Madness. The Norse are coming off an exciting conference championship run and have everything to gain.
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Houston vs. Northern Kentucky Betting Odds: Spread, Moneyline, Total
Because of Houston’s top ranking, and this game’s primetime placement, this matchup will have a few more eyeballs than some of the other games. That means the bookmakers will also have a bigger interest in this game.
Here are the latest odds from some of the top sportsbooks for this Houston vs. Northern Kentucky encounter.
The Road to March Madness for Houston & Northern Kentucky
Houston has been one of the top college basketball teams all year and is coming off one of its best seasons with a 31-3 overall record. In fact, the Cougars are playing as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in school history (1982-83), putting them in great company alongside the famous Phi Slama Jama team.
The Cougars start this year’s tournament with All-American guard Marcus Sasser coming off a groin injury and listed as a game-time decision, according to the Houston Chronicle. Sasser missed the entirety of the AAC tournament, as Houston fell 75-65 in the final to Memphis.
The Northern Kentucky Norse qualified for the tournament by winning the Horizon League Championship, 63-61 over Cleveland State. This will be the Norse’s third participation in the tournament as the 16th-seeded team.
Houston vs. Northern Kentucky Betting Trends
- Houston is 18-16-0 ATS when listed as a favorite
- Houston is 3-7-0 ATS in its last 10 games and 18-16-0 overall this season
- Houston is 31-3-0 as the money line favorite
- Houston has an O/U record of 16-18-0 this season
- Northern Kentucky is 3-5-0 ATS as the underdog
- Northern Kentucky is 7-3-0 ATS in its last 10 games and 14-18-0 overall this season
- Northern Kentucky is 7-3-0 money line in its last 10 games
- Northern Kentucky has an O/U record of 12-20-0 this season
Houston vs. Northern Kentucky Prediction: Over 121.5
The Cougars will be well-motivated to come out and dominate this match from the start. With the NCAA Final Four in Houston, this season is championship or bust.
Kelvin Sampson’s team has no intention to look down on Northern Kentucky and underestimate the opposition. They will want to put this game to bed early with as big a cushion as possible.
If Sasser indeed plays, he could see plenty of the ball to get back in rhythm. The Cougars have their eyes on the prize and aren’t looking to mess around this early in the tournament.
Pick: O/U 121.5 via FanDuel
Houston vs. Northern Kentucky Props Predictions
Jamal Shead, Over 12.5 points (-115, BetMGM and DraftKings)
Shead has been one of the top scorers for the Cougars. While the status of Sasser is a bit of a wild card, Shead should still see plenty of the ball to cover the 12.5, and both BetMGM and DraftKings have as good a number as you will find at -115 (Wager $100 to win 86.96).
Even if Sasser sees some gametime, there should be plenty of points up for grabs in this game and Shead should get his share of points. It’s also one of the better odds you’ll find among the UH players.
J’Wan Roberts, Over 10.5 points (-120, BetMGM and DraftKings)
A bit of a similar situation with J’wan Roberts, the odds here are good and 11 points should be an attainable number. The Cougars will look to score early and often, and Roberts should get plenty of opportunity.
These are the next best odds for a Houston player after Shead with a lower number to reach. Both should see enough of the ball but these are two of the best options among the Cougars lineup.
Houston Over 70.5 points (-115, DraftKings)
Feel better about betting on the team instead of just one player? Take the Cougars to go Over 70.5, and you won’t have to worry if Sasser plays or not, you might even benefit if he does.
DraftKings is one of the few sites offering an O/U team total. If you like your chances, that’s one prop to consider.
Marques Warrick, Over 16.5 points (-105, DraftKings)
Warrick is the man to watch for Northern Kentucky. He has the ability to reach 17 points but will he do it against this Cougars’ defense?
If the Norse are going to make a game of this, Warrick has to be involved. For that reason, look for him to get plenty of the ball and DraftKings is offering around the best number you will find at -105 (Bet$100 to win 95.23).
Also read: How pro gamblers are moving March Madness lines | How to hedge NCAA Tournament futures bet
How to Watch Houston vs. Northern Kentucky
Date: Thursday, March 16, 2023
Tipoff: 9:20 p.m. ET (after Iowa vs. Auburn)
Location: Legacy Arena— Birmingham, Ala.
Where to Watch: TNT