NCAA March Madness: Houston vs. Miami Sweet 16 betting preview, odds and predictions

By Zachary Cohen  ( 

March 19, 2023 09:45 PM

NCAA March Madness: Houston Cougars vs. Miami Hurricanes betting preview, odds and predictions

In the 1 vs. 5 matchup in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament, the Houston Cougars take on the Miami Hurricanes with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting oddsin-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs. 

MORE: Check out the public betting splits for every college basketball game on the VSiN betting splits page

How to watch Houston vs. Miami

When: Friday, 7:15 p.m. ET

Where: Kansas City, Missouri

Watch: CBS

Odds for Houston vs. Miami

Spread: Houston -7.5

Total: 139

(Odds accurate as of Sunday, March 19th at 11:50 p.m. ET)

Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook

Midwest Region No. 1 Seed Houston Cougars

The Cougars are a top-10 team when it comes to both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they’re the only team in the nation that can say that — which is why they’re first in our VSiN Team Power Ratings. Houston is loaded in the talent department, with Marcus Sasser being one of the best guards in the country and Jarace Walker looking the part of a top-10 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Jamal Shead, J’Wan Roberts and Tramon Mark are also capable of having moments in March. However, Sasser did suffer a groin injury in the AAC Tournament semifinals and that's scary at this time of the year. He played well against Auburn, but there's no way he's at 100%. Perhaps having four full days of rest will help. Sasser is the engine of this team. 

Midwest Region No. 5 Seed Miami Hurricanes

With this Miami team, everything runs through the three guards, as Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller and Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack are all dangerous offensive players. All three are a big part of the reason Miami is one of the best offensive teams in the country, but can those guys lock in and defend? The Hurricanes’ effort on defense will determine how much further they can go in this tournament. But it's massive that the team got Norchad Omier back. The forward hurt his ankle against the Duke Blue Devils in the ACC tournament, but he came up huge against Indiana in the Round of 32. He had seven points, 17 boards and two steals in that game. He has a relentless motor and brings more passion out of his teammates.  

Houston vs. Miami matchup analysis

This is going to be a really intriguing matchup, as it's a true clash of styles. Houston is a well-oiled machine, as the Cougars are ninth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency and fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency. This team is just coached to perfection by Kelvin Sampson, who has a group that rarely makes mistakes and plays selfless basketball. Meanwhile, Miami is outstanding offensively, with the Hurricanes being 12th in the nation in adjusted offense. But this Miami team's offense is a little less organized, and the team is not very good defensively. 

If the Hurricanes are going to make this a close game, it will take some tremendous shotmaking from guards Isaiah Wong, Nijel Pack and Jordan Miller. Houston is a team that forces opponents into a lot of iso-ball situations, and the Cougars are loaded with great one-on-one defenders. But Miami happens to have some guards that can really create offense for themselves, with Wong being especially good in that regard. It wouldn't be surprising at all if he were to have a big game and help lead his team to a win. We're at the point in the tournament where nothing should shock anyone, and the Hurricanes were the ACC champions this year. They also happen to be coached by the legendary Jim Larranaga, who took George Mason to a Final Four in 2006. 

It's hard to put into words how important it is that Marcus Sasser is healthy for the Cougars. Sasser had 22 points for Houston in a win over Auburn last game, but groin injuries can be tricky. Those things really take time to heal and setbacks can happen at any moment. If Sasser ends up getting banged up or forced out of action, the Cougars would no longer be expected to win this game. Houston has guys that can be counted on to step up, and Tramon Mark did so with 26 points and nine boards against Auburn. But the Cougars need Sasser out there, as he's arguably the best guard remaining in the tournament. We're too late in the tournament to have star players forced out of action. 

Given how good Miami is offensively — and how bad the team is defensively — the over might be another good way to look here. The Hurricanes might not score efficiently in this game, but it's hard to imagine them not putting a decent number on the scoreboard. And the Cougars will get theirs against a leaky Miami defense. 

MORE: College basketball best bets from VSiN hosts and analysts

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