Houston vs. Duke odds, prediction, betting trends for 2024 March Madness Sweet 16 game

Houston dominated its first-round matchup for the first 35 minutes until Texas A&M made a furious comeback to force overtime. Duke was a different story — the Blue Devils handled the first round matchup and won even bigger in the second round, ending James Madison’s potential Cinderella story.

Duke is 20-13-1 against the spread this season, and despite losing two straight before the NCAA Tournament, the Blue Devils have won and covered in each round. Houston only went 17-17-2 against the spread this season but boasts a better overall record at 32-4. The Cougars’ defensive-first approach sometimes results in closer games, leading to fewer spread covers, but Houston is one of the best teams in the country at winning tight contests.

Here’s everything you need to know about betting on Houston vs. Duke in the 2024 NCAA Tournament, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for Friday’s Sweet 16 game on CBS at 9:39 p.m.

Houston vs. Duke odds

Here are the latest college basketball betting odds for Houston vs. Duke from the best online sports betting sites in the U.S.

Houston is a few-point favorite in this matchup, and a point total in the low 130s suggests oddsmakers think it will be a low-scoring contest. With the large Duke fan base, public money could take this matchup closer to a pick’em by Friday.

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Three betting trends to watch

  • Houston has won three of its last four games and was the favorite in each contest, but the Cougars have only covered the spread once in those four games.
  • Duke has covered the spread in each of its two NCAA Tournament games and has covered 10 of the last 13. Interestingly, the Blue Devils have only covered the spread in contests they also won. 
  • Duke has hit the UNDER for total points in three of its last four games, while Houston has hit the OVER in three of its last four games.

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Houston Cougars key players

  • L.J. Cryer (15.5 points per game), the Cougars’ leading scorer, has been solid in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The senior guard scored 17 points in the first round and 20 in the second round. Cryer did foul out in the second-round win over Texas A&M, something he can’t afford to do against Duke.
  • Emanuel Sharp stepped up big time for the Cougars; the sophomore guard averages 12.8 PPG. He had a career-high 30 points to lead all scorers in Houston’s second-round win. With Cryer fouled out, Sharp helped carry Houston to the win, and if he continues to play at this level, the Cougars can compete for a national championship.
  • Houston’s best frontcourt player J’Wan Roberts averages 9.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He had a strong game in the second round, grabbing eight boards and scoring 13 points. Roberts was also the only starter left on the floor at the end of the game, with the other four fouling out.

Duke Blue Devils key players

  • Jared McCain is not usually among the first slot of key Duke players, but his performance this NCAA Tournament has warranted it. The freshman guard averages 14.0 PPG but has played even better in March. He scored 15 in the first-round win over Vermont and went nuts against James Madison, scoring 30 points and hitting eight threes. 
  • Kyle Filipowski has been solid in the first two rounds so far, but the time is coming when he needs to have a star performance, something he is capable of. He leads Duke in points and rebounds with 16.6 PPG and 8.2 RPG. He only scored three points in the first round and 14 in the second round. The Blue Devils won both and didn’t need him to do more. In a matchup with Houston that plays small ball lineups, Filipowski will have a size advantage and needs to use it.
  • Jeremy Roach has been solid in the tournament, averaging 15.0 points and five assists in two games. But he will now face the best defensive backcourt he has seen and will need to have one of his best games against Houston’s pressure.

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Best individual matchup: Ja’Vier Francis vs. Kyle Filipowski

Francis may not put up impressive numbers for Houston, averaging just six points and 5.1 rebounds per game. But his size at the center spot will be crucial as he is the only rotation player 6-foot-8 or taller to see regular minutes. Francis had four blocks in the second round and will need that type of defensive performance against Kyle Filipowski, one of the best forwards in the country.

Houston vs. Duke stat to know

Four Houston Cougars fouled out in the second-round win over Texas A&M, while Duke did not have a single player exit the game. Houston clearly needs to keep its best players on the floor for all 40 minutes to contain Duke. If the Cougars can stay out of foul trouble, they have enough strength in the backcourt to take down the Blue Devils.

Houston vs. Duke prediction: Cougars guard play propels them to Elite 8

Houston is a veteran squad with talented, experience guards — a huge advantage in March. As long as foul trouble doesn’t get in the way, Houston should pull off a close win.

Prediction: Houston 70, Duke 65. Houston (-3.5) covers the spread, with the game going OVER the total (133.5).

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