Two schools that haven’t been to the Final Four since before the start of the expanded NCAA Tournament era in 1985 are back in the limelight this year.
No. 1 Baylor will face No. 2 Houston in a national semifinal of the Final Four on Saturday. Kick-off will be at 5 pm or 8:30 pm ET at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The game will be televised on CBS.
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Baylor (26-2) won the South Region with coach Scott Drew with an 81-72 victory over Arkansas in the regional final. The Bears are in the Final Four for the first time since 1950. Jared Butler, MaCio Teague and Davion Mitchell continue to lead Baylor throughout their tournament career.
Houston (28-3), the champion of the Midwest region, is in the Final Four for the first time since the Phi Slama Jama heyday of 1982-84. Coach Kevin Sampson returns to the Final Four for the first time since 2002. Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser combined for nine 3-pointers in the Cougars’ 67-61 victory over Oregon State in Elite Eight.
Here’s everything you need to know about betting on Baylor against Arkansas in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, including up-to-date odds, trends, and our prediction for the Final Four game.
Baylor vs. Houston odds
- Spread: Baylor (-5)
- Below: 135.5
- Money line: Baylor -210, Houston +176
Three betting trends to follow
– Baylor is 19-10 ATS this season. The Bears are 8-3 ATS when favored by less than 10 points.
– Baylor is 9-3 ATS and 12-0 S / U in non-conference games.
– Houston is 20-11 ATS this season and 11-0 S / U in non-conference games. This is the Cougars’ first game as an underdog this season.
Final Four history
Houston is making its sixth Final Four appearance. The Cougars reached the NCAA championship game in 1983 and 1984 with teams led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Baylor made Final Four appearances in 1948 and 1950. Kentucky beat the Bears 58-42 in the 1948 national championship game.
Baylor key players
Butler (16.5 points per game), Teague (15.9 ppg) and Mitchell (14.0 ppg) carry the Bears’ scoring load, and those in the upper echelons also combine for about 12 assists per game. Baylor also has a deep core of RPGs, including Adam Flagler (9.0 ppg), Matthew Mayer (8.2 ppg), Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua (6.3 ppg), Mark Vital (5.7 ppg) and Flo Thamba (3.6 ppg). That eight-man rotation is fitting in at the right time.
Key Houston Players
Junior point guard Quentin Grimes is averaging 18.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. He is 17 of 39 (43.6 percent) from 3-point range in the NCAA Tournament. Sasser is averaging 13.3 points as part of the Cougars’ dynamic backcourt, and senior Dejon Jarreau has 10.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Justin Gorham (8.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg) is the main post player
Best Singles Match: Grimes vs. Mitchell
This has become a theme for Baylor throughout the season. Mitchell is a stopper, the big 12 defensive player of the year. The Bears defense struggled in the first half against Arkansas when Mitchell fouled three times in the first half. Grimes has just one game with 10 or more free throws this season, and he can’t settle for 3-point shots with Mitchell on the perimeter.
Baylor vs. Houston Stats to Know
Both teams have defended the 3-point line well throughout the tournament. All four Houston opponents have shot 24 of 80 (30 percent) from there. Baylor has opponents limited to 19 of 72 shots (26.4 percent) from 3-point range. If that trend continues, fast break points and mid-court execution will make a difference on both sides.
Get to know it. . . MaCio Teague
Teague, a senior who started his career at UNC-Asheville, has become one of the tournament’s delightful stories. He failed to score in double digits in consecutive games for the first time this season in the second and third round games against Villanova and Wisconsin, but he rallied with 22 points against Arkansas. Teague is Baylor’s second-best free throw shooter at 85.9 percent. In a scenario where that matters, he could be a key player in the final minutes.
Baylor vs. Houston prediction
The schools have a history dating back to the days of the Southwest Conference, with the Cougars leading 38-15 in the series. However, the teams have not met since 2003, and the dueling Final Four droughts should increase the intensity. Both teams can win with their defense, and that could lead to some rough shots in the first half. Look for both teams to settle in during a tight second half, but Baylor’s backcourt (and depth) will make the difference. The Bears take advantage of second-chance points and make decisive free throws down the stretch.
Final score: Baylor 73, Houston 67
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.