Both Houston and Villanova have bulldozed through their tournament competition.
However, Villanova had a bit of a scare against 11-seed Michigan, while Houston man-handled one-seed Arizona. The latter seems more impressive.
The Wildcats will be a stiff test for Houston, however. The Wildcats are seasoned and well-coached, and this isn’t Jay Wright’s first trip to the Elite Eight. In fact, it’s the third trip in the last six seasons for the ‘Cats.
But Kelvin Sampson and his Cougars will be looking to make the Final Four in back-to-back years.
This is a highly-anticipated battle. Where does the value lie?
Villanova vs Houston Odds
Houston vs Villanova odds are provided by Caesars and current as of 3/25
- Moneyline: Houston (-135), Villanova (+115)
- ATS: Houston -2 (-110), Villanova +2 (-112)
- Over/Under: Over 128 (-110) / Under 128 (-110)
- Implied Score: Houston 65, Villanova 63
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Villanova vs Houston Prediction
Is it surprising to see two-seeded Villanova as a two-point underdog to five-seeded Houston?
Yes and no.
Houston is a lower-seeded team with a less-impressive resume, but the Cougars are rated higher by almost every power rating. Houston is second in KenPom, BartTorvik, and EvanMiya. And since the Cougars only trail Gonzaga, the Cougars are now the highest-rated team left in the field (analytically).
The Cougars are top-10 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Cougars are stifling on defense, contesting shots relentlessly. On offense, Houston is fairly efficient on the interior and crashes the glass hard – the Cougars are third nationally in ORB%.
Houston also pressures the ball, creates turnovers, and blocks a lot of shots while simultaneously never getting blocked. This is an athletic, gritty, opportunistic team.
But how do they match up with Villanova?
Villanova takes care of the ball with a savvy and experienced backcourt. The ‘Cats did struggle with the St. John’s ball pressure in the Big East tournament, so we’ll see if Collin Gillespie and co. hold up.
Speaking of Gillespie, he’s hurt. Well, he’s maybe hurt. Wright has said Gillespie’s knee is fine and he’s good to go, but it’s worth considering his injury status in this handicap.
The key will be Villanova’s 3-point shooting. Because the key is usually Villanova’s 3-point shooting, considering they huck it at a top-20 rate nationally and hit them at a 36% clip.
But more specifically, can Villanova shoot over Houston? Per ShotQuality, the Cougars are top-15 nationally in allowing low-quality 3’s, but are also due for a bit of negative shooting regression (30 3P% allowed, 32 SQ 3P% allowed).
The best part about this matchup is that both teams are relatively the same size. But Houston is clearly more athletic.
Houston vs Villanova Pick
Houston 65, Villanova 60
That athleticism will prove too much for Villanova.
The Cougars didn’t have a hard time running the offense against Michigan, because Michigan has a pathetic perimeter defense. Villanova could run the pick-and-roll, the pick-and-pop, or just basic off-the-dribble 3s and execute it all with ease.
- Click to add a Houston-Villanova parlay pick.
That won’t be the case with Houston, who will hound every offensive set Wright tries to run.
I also don’t expect Villanova to be able to shoot over Houston’s length as the Wildcats did against the Wolverines.
Given both teams play slow, expect this game to be played around 60 possessions. I’d be surprised if we break 130 here.
Houston vs Villanova Best Bets
Under 128 Points (-110) at Caesars
WAGER: .5 units
I do expect Houston to win this game, but I’m not willing to play it due to 3-point variance and Gillespie’s potential injury.
If Villanova shoots lights out from 3, Houston won’t have a chance. If Gillespie is actually hurt, Villanova won’t have a chance.
- Find the rest of our Elite 8 Best Bets for the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
There are too many unanswered questions.
But, I love the under. Houston is 338th nationally in tempo, while Villanova is 345th. Four of Villanova’s last five games have gone under, while three of Houston’s last four have gone under.
Villanova won’t allow this game won’t go over 63 possessions, and Houston won’t allow Villanova to score more than about 1.00 PPP.
I’d bet this Under to 127.5.