NCAA Tournament Final Four: (1) Baylor (26-2) vs (2) Houston (28-3) prediction and college basketball game preview.
Baylor vs Houston Broadcast
Date: Saturday, April 3
Game Time: 5:14 pm ET
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Baylor vs Houston Game Preview
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Why Houston Will Win
This Houston team is as active, tough, and relentless as any in college basketball.
No, it doesn’t operate with the ruthless offensive efficiency of Gonzaga, and putting together a full 40 minutes of consistency hasn’t been easy – like in the 67-61 win over Oregon State to get here – but to get schmaltzy, try finding a team that plays with a bigger heart.
Oregon State pulled off a minor miracle to get back in the game and tie it after getting its doors blown off for the first 20 minutes, but just when it seems like it was about to take over – Houston got an offensive rebound. And then another one. And another one.
The Cougars outrebounded the Beavers 41-29 including a ridiculous 19 on the offensive end. No, it didn’t mean Houston just wanted it more, but it simply managed to do everything right to keep possessions going.
Arkansas is able to do that a bit, too. It outrebounded Baylor 34-29 with 11 offensive boards in the 81-72 Bear win, and that could be the Achilles’ heel. This is a loaded Baylor team that’s playing as well as anyone at both ends of the floor, but it’s just okay on the defensive glass.
Houston has the defensive style, the attacking ability, and the athleticism to hand with the ultra-quick Bears. But …
Why Baylor Will Win
Oregon State hit 38% from three against the Cougars. That was just enough to get back in the game and make it interesting. Who leads the nation in threes?
Baylor, and it showed off against Arkansas by nailing 8-of-15 from the outside as it kept finding ways to stay ahead even after the Hogs managed to go on a run.
More than that, the Bears don’t make mistakes. They don’t have turnover issues – just nine against the Hogs – they’re great at generating the extra pass for the assistance, and they’re fantastic inside, too.
All of that, and they can hit the offensive glass. The defensive side they’re just okay at getting on the boards, but they’re great at keeping possessions alive and getting the extra chances, too.
What’s Going To Happen
There’s absolutely no such thing as a cheap run to the Final Four. If you got here, you went on a four-game run doing something very, very well.
With that said, Houston beat a 15 (Cleveland State), a 10 (Rutgers) and an 11 (Syracuse) before getting a 12 (Oregon State). That’s four double-digit seeds, and now there’s a massive step-up coming in overall talent level.
But it’s more than that. Again, this takes nothing away from the Cougars, but the last three teams they faced were good matchups for them – along with being double-digit seeds. All three were defensive-minded squads with the Orange and Beavers ultra-reliant on hitting from the outside.
Baylor is an entirely different problem.
That’s not to say that Houston can’t pitch a defensive gem, but Baylor can play a little D, too. It forced 15 Arkansas turnovers and clamped down hard from the outside. The real key, though, will be the Bears’ offensive versatility.
They’ll find every way to score, and they won’t get decimated on the glass. Houston won’t get the offensive rebounds they’ll need.
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Baylor vs Houston Prediction, Line
Baylor 71, Houston 64
Line: Baylor -5, o/u: 135
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3.5
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Must See Rating:
5: Baseball in the middle of summer
1: Baseball in April
Photo Credits: Houston: Jenna Watson/IndyStar via USA TODAY Sports/Baylor: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports