Houston vs. Villanova Game Odds, Prediction & Picks

Eddie Griffin

An illustrious record is on the line when South Region #5 seed Houston meets #2 seed Villanova in San Antonio with a place in the Final Four on the line.

Today’s South Region final against the Wildcats will be the seventh regional final appearance for the Cougars. The previous six times they have reached this round of the NCAA Tournament, they have won every single time.

Regional Final History for Houston

  • 1967: beat SMU 83-75
  • 1968: beat TCU 103-68
  • 1982: beat Boston College 99-92
  • 1983: beat Villanova 89-71
  • 1984: beat Wake Forest 68-63
  • 2021: beat Oregon State 67-61

To maintain that perfect record, the Cougars will have to end Villanova’s recent regional final streak. The Wildcats have won their last three regional finals (2009, 2016, and 2018), going on to win the national championship in 2016 and 2018.

The winner of the Houston vs. Villanova matchup will face the winner of the Midwest Region final between Kansas and Miami (FL) next Saturday in the Final Four. Who will move on to New Orleans, and whose season will end in San Antonio?

Houston Kyler Edwards 2022 NCAA Tournament
Houston’s Kyler Edwards is averaging 19.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

2022 NCAA Tournament South Regional Final: #5 Houston Cougars vs. #2 Villanova Wildcats Elite Eight Betting Odds and Matchup Information

Matchup Information

  • Game Matchup: #5 Houston Cougars (32-5) vs. #2 Villanova Wildcats (29-7)
  • Venue & Location: AT&T Center (San Antonio, Texas)
  • Date: Saturday, March 26, 2022
  • Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS

Houston vs. Villanova Betting Odds

  • Spread: Houston -2.5 (-114), Villanova +2.5 (-106)
  • Total: OVER 127.5 (-110), UNDER 127.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Houston -152, Villanova +126

Odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook.

Can the Cougars Continue Their Defensive Dominance?

Houston’s success under Kelvin Sampson has been built on strong defense. In each of the six seasons, the Cougars have allowed under 65 points per game.

The past two seasons, that number has dipped below 60 points per game, as the Cougars have won 60 games and made consecutive deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, they finished second in Division I in scoring defense, allowing only 58.2 PPG as they reached the Final Four for the first time since 1984.

This season, despite losing Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark in December, Houston is third in scoring defense, allowing only 59.0 PPG. So, that technically makes their Sweet 16 performance a subpar one, as they gave up 60 points to the Wildcats.

However, it was anything but subpar, as the Cougars held Arizona two dozen points below their season average in claiming a 72-60 win.

The Wildcats entered the game shooting over 49 percent from the field, but they shot just 33.3 percent (18 of 54) from the field and 31.8 percent from three against Houston. And Arizona star Bennedict Mathurin had one of his worst games of the season, making only 4 of 14 shots.

It was Houston’s second straight standout defensive performance against a power conference champion. In the second round, they completely shut down Big Ten regular season co-champion Illinois in Pittsburgh.

Statistics for Houston in the 2022 NCAA Tournament

  • Scoring Defense: 60.3 PPG
  • Field Goal Percentage: 38.1% (61 of 160)
  • Two-Point Field Goal Percentage: 45.7% (43 of 94)
  • Three-Point Field Goal Percentage: 27.3% (18 of 66)
  • Turnover Margin: +14 (41 forced, 27 made)
  • Blocks: 15

The Cougars have also gotten the job done on the offensive end, enabling them to win each NCAA Tournament game by double digits. Against Arizona, they shot 46 percent from the field and 45 percent from three.

Jamal Shead went only 5 of 16 from the field but still ended up with 21 points after scoring 18 against Illinois. Kyler Edwards continued his excellent NCAA Tournament by making five of nine threes as part of a 19-point night against the Wildcats.

Taking care of the ball and crashing the glass are both key to Houston’s success. They have dished out 41 assists and turned the ball over only 26 times in their three tournament games, and they have had double-digit offensive rebounds in each game as well.

Still, it might seem a little surprising to some that the Cougars are favored in this game against higher-seeded Villanova. Also, entering the Elite Eight, March Madness odds list Houston as the second favorite to win the national championship, behind Midwest Region #1 seed Kansas and ahead of West Region #2 seed Duke.

Villanova has been pretty darn good defensively in the tournament as well. In their 63-55 win over #11 seed Michigan in the Sweet 16, they held the Wolverines to 34.4 percent overall from the field and 33.3 percent from three. For the tournament, they have held opponents to 39.8 percent overall shooting from the field and 26.7 percent from three.

Houston vs. Villanova Prediction and Picks

Houston 70, Villanova 65 (Houston -2.5 & OVER 127.5)

Betting against Villanova is a dangerous move–after all, I bet against them in the last round, and look how that turned out–but stubbornness is one of my best and worst traits, I suppose.

Besides that, betting against Houston falls into that category as well, given how much they do well. Yes, they are a stellar defensive team, but they are also arguably the most well-rounded team left in the March Madness field.

Villanova beat Ohio State and Michigan by defending well, making shots when they needed to, and taking care of the ball. However, they did not shoot well in either game, were outrebounded by the Buckeyes and Wolverines, and allowed double-digit offensive rebounds in both games.

Where neither of those teams were able to take advantage in those areas, Houston is equipped to. The only thing. The only thing that the Cougars don’t do so well is shoot free throws, as they are one of college basketball’s worst teams from the foul line. That is one of the numerous areas in which they miss Sasser and Mark, who were two of their best free-throw shooters.

But Shead shoots over 80 percent from the stripe, and 28 of Houston’s 32 wins this season are by double digits, with 19 coming by 15+ points. If the result plays out like Houston’s previous three games during this year’s tournament and the majority of their games this season, the Cougars won’t need to make too many late trips to the line to close out the win.

Eddie Griffin
Eddie Griffin

Eddie Griffin has been writing about and Betting on sports for over a decade. For more of his thoughts on sports and sports betting, you can follow him on Twitter.

Eddie Griffin has been writing about and Betting on sports for over a decade. For more of his thoughts on sports and sports betting, you can follow him on Twitter.