After a thrilling Sweet 16, the remaining NCAA tournament field is set. Let’s break down the Elite Eight bets to consider for the South Regional final between Houston and Villanova.
Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting chat, where we dig into all of the games left in the big dance. You can reference my pre-tournament power rankings and current ratings — ahead of the rest of my bets.
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No. 2 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 5 Houston Cougars
Both teams have covered all of their March Madness games thus far. They’ve helped cash the under in four of those six contests too.
Don’t adjust your screen. Although Villanova is the higher seed in the South Region, Houston is favored because numerous power ratings have the Cougars higher. The market followed suit after its upset win over No. 1 seed Arizona.
Plus, these under results naturally create less value in the total if you’re targeting that angle. Below are the factors to consider before partaking in Elite Eight bets for this highly-anticipated duel.
Executing Against The Press
During Houston’s 2022 NCAA tournament run, its persistent ball pressure has forced a combined 43 turnovers. Villanova is well-positioned to combat that on paper, boasting experienced guard play while tallying the 28th-lowest turnover rate across college basketball.
That translates into 9.9 turnovers per game. But let’s explore how the Wildcats handled a trio of Big East foes (St. John’s, Marquette and Seton Hall), which all emulate the Cougars’ defensive game plan to a degree.
|Opponent||Game 1 TOs||Game 2 TOs|
Digging into this chart even further, the Johnnies and Pirates both possess physical guard that mirror Kelvin Sampson’s bunch more than the Golden Eagles. Hence, the results add up.
Look for Houston’s Jamal Shead & Co. to hound Villanova’s ball handlers, especially if Collin Gillespie (knee) is hampered. But per a source, Gillespie’s injury isn’t expected impact his overall effectiveness.
On the flip side, the Cougars aren’t immune to pressure either. Despite avoiding it in the tournament thus far, Houston struggled against Memphis’ havoc-driven defense, accruing 48 giveaways in their three meetings this season.
Jay Wright’s crew forced the third-highest turnover rate in conference play. Assuming Gillespie is well enough to press with his teammates, the Cougars could be a victim of their own success.
Keep in mind, Houston and Villanova rank No. 338 and No. 345, respectively, in adjusted tempo (per KenPom). A lower number of total possessions would manufacture a deeper hole for either team to dig itself out of if turnovers are an issue.
Battle On The Boards And Fouls
Sampson’s squad deserves plenty of praise for its tenacity on the glass, producing the third-highest offensive rebounding rate in the country. But Villanova’s aggressiveness in that department (No. 76) shouldn’t go overlooked.
Considering each coach employs a short rotation — especially Wright — keep an eye on how much fouls influence this dogfight. The Wildcats’ perimeter-oriented arsenal could certainly make the Cougars pay off second-chance shots if bigs Eric Dixon and Jermaine Samuels aren’t pinned to the bench.
Plus, Houston’s combativeness on the glass often leads to trouble of its own. If Villanova works its way into the bonus because of Cougars’ foul trouble, it boasts an all-time record-high 82.6% clip from the line.
Nevertheless, Sampson’s interior defense delivers the top-rated post-up efficiency across college basketball (via ShotQuality), which the Wildcats run fairly often. Drawing more fouls will need to come off of their vintage pump-fake instead.
Villanova – Houston Conclusion
Even though the total is priced right, there could be value in live betting Villanova if the Sampson-Wright chess match ensues as I anticipate. For now, I’ll wait on that opportunity for my Elite Eight bets.
Best Available Line: Villanova
Best Available Total: O/U