The No. 1 seed Houston Cougars (27-7) and the No. 16 seed Northern Kentucky Norse (22-12) will meet Thursday, March 16, at 9 p.m. ET in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
The biggest news story surrounding this game is the availability of star guard Marcus Sasser. While he was a game time decision for their conference championship against Memphis, the Cougars are keeping details relating to his availability close to their chest.
Sasser was part of this Houston team’s 2021 Final Four tournament run, and his availability is important to the spread.
Read on for my Houston vs Northern Kentucky prediction and best bets.
Houston vs Northern Kentucky Seed Odds
Note: CBB odds mentioned in this article for Houston vs Northern Kentucky were used from FanDuel Sportsbook, unless otherwise noted, and are current as of 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 14.
- Moneyline: Houston (-4500) | Northern Kentucky (+1600)
- Spread: Houston -19.5 (-110) | Northern Kentucky +19.5 (-110)
- Over/Under: Over 122.5 (-110) | Under 122.5.5 (-110)
Houston vs Northern Kentucky Best Bet
Keep reading for more Houston vs Northern Kentucky betting tips.
Houston vs Northern Kentucky Prediction
Houston 71, Northern Kentucky 50
Northern Kentucky has been stronger on the defensive side of the ball than on offense this season, posting 68.2 points per game, 271st in the nation. They are only allowing 63.6 points per game to their opponents this season, which ranks 28th in the nation.
While this may be a viable strategy in their conference, it’s going to be much harder to execute against an elite team like Houston.
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Houston vs Northern Kentucky Best Bets
1H Under 57.5 (-110) | FanDuel Sportsbook
WAGER: 0.5 Units
This is an incredibly tough game to bet, but I’m going to take the first-half Under in hopes Houston comes out a little discombobulated, possibly missing their leading scorer. Neither of these teams is going to play particularly fast here, ranking 342nd and 328th in pace this season.
There has only ever been one No. 16-seed upset, so I would feel very confident picking Houston in my pool, whether or not Sasser suits up. Houston will be able to control this game early on, and even if they struggle to score at first, they will give Northern Kentucky an even tougher matchup on the other side of the ball.
Houston vs Northern Kentucky Same Game Parlay
Houston vs Northern Kentucky SGP (-110) | DraftKings Sportsbook
WAGER: 0.5 Units
- Houston Team Total O65.5
- Northern Kentucky Team Total Under 56.5
Here we get some exposure to the very slow pace, with Houston still getting the job done in the end. Whether Sasser suits up or not, I don’t think Northern Kentucky is going to be able to stick around with Houston’s strength and athleticism.
On the other side, Northern Kentucky should struggle with those same problems on offense, and they will simply be outmatched in this one.