Rutgers vs. Houston Predictions, Odds, Preview

Mar. 21, 2021
Thom Cunningham
NCAA BK Expert

Rutgers vs. Houston Predictions

While although Houston is the most efficient team in the nation, and should win this SU, the high spread is concerning. Rutgers has gone from an offensive outlet to a defensive-minded team, while Houston allows the second-lowest points per game in the nation. The signs point towards this game going UNDER, but Rutgers is a fine play with the high spread.

Houston saw injuries in its win over Cleveland State, so it's unsure how that will translate against a much better team from the Big Ten. Rutgers guard Ron Harper is struggling to find his three-point shot too, as facing the second-best defense in the nation won't make life easier.

With two good defenses on display, this should be kept close and low scoring with Houston pulling away. Houston is a Final Four team in my opinion, but the injuries sustained in game one makes this Round 2 game a new measuring stick to see where Houston truly stands. For now go with the total, but if you must pick a winner take Rutgers to cover a close one.

  • Score Prediction: Houston 68 Rutgers 63
  • Best Bets - Side: Rutgers +9
  • Best Bets - Total: UNDER 132

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Rutgers vs. Houston Betting Odds

  • Spread: Houston -9
  • Total: 132
  • Money-Line: Houston -500 Rutgers +400

Odds to Win NCAA Tournament

Odds to Win Midwest Region

Odds Subject to Change

Second Round Predictions

Sunday's Previews - Mar. 21, 2021

Handicapping Rutgers vs. Houston

Houston has covered the spread in 20 of its last 28 games, while Rutgers is 14-12-1 on the ATS - essentially split. Again, the Round 1 injures Houston saw is a bit worrisome for the high spread. Add that with both schools featuring a defense-first style of play, the spread has less conviction in betting on then the total.

Rutgers has gone UNDER the point total in 15 games this season, including seven of its last 10 games. Houston has gone OVER in three straight, including six of eight. However, Rutgers is the best opponent Houston will have faced since Texas Tech on Nov. 29 in which the game went UNDER 129.

Texas Tech, much like Rutgers, a tournament caliber team with a defensive presence. Expect something similar to that for this game. If this game goes OVER then Houston will likely cover, as their offense is much more efficient than Rutgers has been the second half of the season.

  • Region: Midwest
  • Matchup: 2 vs. 10
  • Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Date: Mar. 21, 2021
  • TV-Time: 7:10 p.m. (ET) - TBS

Handicapping Resources: March Madness Central | NCAA Consensus Picks

Betting Stats & Analysis - Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

Rutgers began the season scoring a lot of points, but turned into a defensive team. There is belief that Rutgers can go back to an offensive threat, but Harper needs to hit his long shots for that to happen. He has struggled mightily from outside the second half of the season.

The team still sees three players average a double-digit point total, also featuring a dominant big man with tons of athleticism. Rutgers hits 20.5 two-pointers per game which ranks 45th nationally, so the flashes of the prolific offense are still there. The standout stat, which is mainly in large part due to Myles Johnson's doing, is that Rutgers averages 5.2 blocks per game which ranks ninth in the nation.

Seed: 10
Conference: Big Ten
Bid: At-large

  • SU: 16-11
  • ATS: 9-7-1
  • O/U: 12-15
  • Current Form (Last 5): 3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS, 2-3 O/U
  • Notable Wins: Clemson, Purdue, Illinois, Maryland, Syracuse
  • PS/G: 69.6 (223rd)
  • PA/G: 67.8 (104th)
  • Off Rtg: 101.2 (190th)
  • Def Rtg: 98.6 (131)

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Betting Stats & Analysis - Houston Cougars

Houston is the most efficient school in the nation and in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars have the second-highest offensive efficiency rating, and the sixth-highest defensive efficiency rating. They average 39.8 rebounds per game (ranks 18th in nation), 7.9 steals per game (ranks 50th in nation), 4.5 blocks per game (ranks 37th in nation) and hit 36.1% of their three-pointers (ranks 71st in nation).

Seed: 2
Conference: AAC
Bid: Auto

  • SU: 25-3
  • ATS: 20-8
  • O/U: 15-13
  • Current Form (Last 5): 5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS, 3-2 O/U
  • Notable Wins: Western Kentucky, Boise State, Texas Tech, Wichita State
  • PS/G: 78 (42nd)
  • PA/G: 57.8 (2nd)
  • Off Rtg: 119.9 (2nd)
  • Def Rtg: 88.9 (6th)

Key Players to Watch

Harper is the best player for Rutgers, while Jacob Young scores the second-most points per game on the team. Johnson is a dominant big man, and sees a ton of rebounds, blocks and alley oops. Geo Baker is typically the overlooked threat for this team as well.

Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser must now do all the heavy lifting with Dejon Jarreau's injury. Justin Gorham must now elevate his game if the Cougars wish to see a Sweet 16 showing or Elite Eight.

  • RUTG - Ron Harper Jr. (15.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG)
  • RUTG - Jacob Young (14.3 PPG)
  • UH - Quentin Grimes (17.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG)
  • UH - Marcus Sasser (13.1 PPG)

2021 March Madness Tournament Team Results

Houston ran through Cleveland State, easily covering the spread with an 87-56 victory. The point total went OVER the third straight game for Houston, while covering the spread in eight of its last 11 games as the favorite.

Rutgers covered the spread against Clemson, the third straight cover for Rutgers as the favorite. They are underdogs against Houston however, split as the underdog with a 3-3-1 ATS this season.

March Madness Records & Trends

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

  • All-Time Record: 6-7
  • Last Appearance: 1991
  • Deepest Run: Final Four (1976)

-- Rutgers has lost six of its last 10 NCAA Tournament games.
-- Rutgers has failed to reach the Sweet 16 in four of its last six NCAA Tournament appearances.

Houston Cougars

  • All-Time Record: 30-26
  • Last Appearance: 2019
  • Deepest Run: Final Runner-up (1984)

-- Houston has failed to reach the Sweet 16 in five of its last six NCAA Tournament appearances.
-- Houston has lost by five points or less in four of its last five NCAA Tournament games in which they are eliminated.
-- Houston has covered the spread in 14 of its last 18 games when playing as the favorite.

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