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Baylor Solid Favorite vs Houston in all-Texas Final Four Fray

MaCio Teague and the Baylor Bears opened as 5-point favorites in March Madness betting odds for their Final Four matchup against the Houston Cougars.

The Baylor Bears (26-2 SU, 18-10 ATS) have been one of the most impressive offensive teams in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, and they will meet one of the best defensive squads in the Houston Cougars (28-3, 21-10) as solid favorites in the first Final Four matchup Saturday.

The South Region champion Bears are playing in their first Final Four since 1950 while the Midwest Region champion Cougars are here for the first time since 1984 when they eventually lost to the Georgetown Hoyas in the NCAA title game.

Houston Cougars vs Baylor Bears
  • Date/Time: April 3, 5:14 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Lucas Oil Stadium
  • TV Coverage: CBS
  • Opening Odds: Baylor -5 | O/U 135.5 (Line History)
  • Houston vs Baylor Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The point spread has held steady at -5 in favor of Baylor in early action since the opening odds were released at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. In other words, the oddsmakers seem to have gotten this one right, or bettors are simply waiting a bit longer to make their move on the side.

The same cannot be said for the total, which has dropped slightly to 135 from the opener. Houston’s stifling defense has likely played a role in that small fall, and it will be intriguing to see if it continues to go that way leading up to tipoff.

Houston News & Notes

The Cougars have surrendered more than 60 points only once in their last five games, and that happened in a 67-61 win over the 12th-seeded Oregon State Beavers in the Midwest Region final on Monday.

While Houston did not cover the spread as an 8-point favorite, the team did manage to stave off a late rally from Oregon State that saw the game tied at 55-55 with 3:48 remaining.

The Cougars have certainly won ugly at times throughout the big dance, including their 63-60 comeback victory against the 10th-seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the second round. That was another failed cover, albeit one of just four during a current 11-game winning streak going back to February 21.

Baylor News & Notes

On the opposite end of the scoring spectrum are the Bears, who have averaged 74.5 points in their first four games of the NCAA Tournament. But it is important not to underestimate Baylor’s defense either, as the team has held opponents to an average of 60.3 points per game over that same stretch.

This is an extremely talented group of players who have proven that they can win in a variety of ways, and they may need to go the Villanova route again opposite Houston.

In the Sweet 16, the Bears trailed the Wildcats 30-23 at halftime before turning the tables and outscoring Villanova 39-21 after the break for a 62-51 victory. They somehow found a way to beat the spread in that game too as 7.5-point favorites, one of their three straight covers leading up to the Final Four.

Betting Pick: UNDER 135

These Texas schools have met only once since the old Southwest Conference days, with Baylor edging Houston 62-60 but failing to cover as a 7-point road favorite. Although it’s nearly 20 years later, bettors should expect a similarly low-scoring affair between the Bears and Cougars, who will not want to get into a shootout here. Both of them will go all out to get to the national championship game, and defense will reign supreme.

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Shark Bites
  • The OVER is 13-3 in Baylor’s last 16 games.
  • The UNDER is 3-0 in Houston’s last 3 games.
  • Baylor is 3-0 ATS in its last 3 games.