Houston vs Arizona Odds, Picks, Spread – March Madness

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  • The #1 Arizona Wildcats are 1.5-point favorites over the #5 Houston Cougars in a South Regional Sweet 16 game on Thursday, March 24
  • Arizona is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth time since 2014
  • Below, see the Houston vs Arizona odds, betting analysis, and prediction

As the #5 Houston Cougars (31-5, 24-12 ATS) square off against the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats (33-3, 19-15-2 ATS) in the South Region Sweet 16 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s now or never time. Such is the nature of the one-and-done March Madness.

For the Wildcats, though, there’s really a sense of their time being now, or not for quite a while. The Wildcats are under NCAA investigation and could be facing sanctions after the season that might include a future postseason ban. It’s possible this is Arizona’s last shot at a title for several years.

Houston vs Arizona Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Houston Cougars +104 +1.5 (-109) O 145.5 (-110)
Arizona Wildcats -124 -1.5 (-110) U 145.5 (-110)

Odds as of March 24th at Barstool Sportsbook.

Tipoff for Thursday’s game is set for 9:59pm ET at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The broadcast is being carried by TBS. Oddsmakers are setting the Wildcats as 1.5-point favorites over the Cougars. Houston is 9-1 against the spread over the past 10 games.


Arizona is the third betting choice in the odds to win the NCAA Tournament at +500. The Wildcats have won the last three meetings with the Cougars, as well as five of the past six games.

Houston’s last win over the Wildcats was in 2005. The other wins by the Cougars over Arizona came in 1967, 1968, 1979 and 1982.

Wildcats Survive a Plague Of Horned Frogs

Arizona was required to work overtime in the second round to eliminate the #9 TCU Horned Frogs 85-80. The Wildcats squandered a nine-point lead over the final eight minutes of the second half.

In fact, it took a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin with 12.9 seconds left in regulation to force OT. Mathurin is +5250 in the Wooden Award odds.  Mathurin scored 30 points in the victory.

Arizona is 3-0 straight up all-time in NCAA Tournament games played on March 24. The Wildcats beat Duke in 2011, Oklahoma State in 2005 and Louisville in 1994. All three games were in the Sweet 16. Arizona played in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight in San Antonio in 2001 and won both games.

Cougars Are Battle Tested

Houston was a Final Four team last season. The Cougars are +235 to repeat that performance in the Final Four odds.

Houston is one of two teams ranking in the KenPom top 10 in both adjusted offensive efficiency (#10, 117.8) and adjusted defensive efficiency (#10, 90.3). NCAA Tournament favorite Gonzaga is the other team.

Something to consider in your strategies for betting on March Madness  – two of Arizona’s three losses this season (UCLA, Tennessee) came against teams rated 16th or better in KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency. Houston also leads the nation in field-goal percentage defense (37.5%). The Cougars checked Illinois at 34% from the field in the Cougars’ 68-53 second-round victory.

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Houston vs Arizona Prediction

A look at Houston’s 11-1 SU record over the past 12 game appears to be quite impressive. That is until you glance over at Arizona’s season and see that the Wildcats are 17-1 SU over the past 18 games. They’ve won eight in a row.

The line opened at Arizona -2.5, so there’s certainly been plenty of action on the Cougars since it was set. Often when a good team survives a scare like the one the Horned Frogs gave the Wildcats, it galvanizes a squad.

This is an interesting juxtaposition of respective strengths. Houston is the better defensive squad. Seven of the last eight Cougars games have gone under.

On the other hand, Arizona is about offense. Seven of the last nine Wildcats games have gone over. Arizona is #7 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency (117.9).

Arizona will seek to push the pace and play with a fast tempo. Houston’s objective will be to slow the game down to a crawl. The Cougars are 5-0 ATS in their last five games and 12-3 ATS in their last 15 as an underdog.

Pick: Houston Cougars +1.5 (-110)

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Author: Renee Castillo