NCAAB Saint Mary’s Vs. Houston Odds, Picks, Predictions (12/3/22)

Regarded as one of the best teams going into the season, Houston has quickly cemented themselves at number one per Kenpom after dismantling nearly every team in their path so far. They have yet to get a key win and now face a good St Mary’s squad in what will be a battle of two brilliant defenses.

Saint Mary’s Vs. Houston Odds

Even without a statement win, oddsmakers like their chances of remaining undefeated as the Cougars opened up at -7.5. Bettors quickly agreed as money has flooded in, taking the Cougars up to as high as -10.5 in some shops. Houston’s metrics look great on paper, but they will for sure be tested early and often against this Gaels defense.

As for the total, be prepared for a defensive slug fest as oddsmakers believe there will be a lack of scoring in this matchup. Opening the total at 115, the over has seen some steam with bettors taking this up to as high as 118.5. Both units are top-10 in AdjD per Kenpom, suffocating opposing offenses into poor shot selections and stalled out possessions.

Saint Mary’s Vs. Houston Prediction & Pick

The Pick: Wait for the under

While I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly the over took money, I will be banking on the total taking a few more ticks higher before going in on the under. Looking to get under 120.5 or higher, I will patiently wait to see how this moves before tip off to grab pregame. Both of these defenses are amongst the best units in the nation with Houston ranking second in AdjD and the Gaels ranking ninth. 

St Marys has also been reeling, coming off of two straight losses to Washington and New Mexico thanks to in no part of their offense. They will be hard pressed to find success on the offensive end against Houston who will be a large step up in quality of opponent. St Marys relies on a majority of their scoring production to be from the perimeter, an area that Houston limits opponents to 18.5%.

Worse yet, they will be at a size disadvantage down low where quality of looks will be more important than ever with their perimeter shooting being negated. While they already struggle with converting at the rim, completing at less than 50%, I struggle to see how the Gaels offense will be a threat to the under.

As for Houston, their offense will have to revolve around their ability to hit from deep as St Mary’s defense specializes in limiting quality looks at the rim. Forcing teams to beat them from deep, the Gaels limit opponents to 41.1% from two. While Houston shoots at a respectable 35% from deep, that’s a tough metric to lean on for consistent scoring production.

(Tallysight pick tile here)

Saint Mary’s Vs. Houston Key Matchups

Can Houston find more diverse scoring production? Who will win the battle on the glass?

Houston secondary scoring vs St Mary’s defense

While the Houston offense is still rated highly per Kenpom, 19th in AdjO, they lack diversity at scoring with 10 players getting meaningful minutes and only three of them scoring in double digits.

Led by guard Marcus Sasser who averages 18.1 points per game, the scoring falls off a cliff with the next man up only averaging 10. Being a one headed scoring unit doesn’t bode well against well coached defense who can negate Sasser’s ability and make Houston scramble to find answers.

With the Gaels giving up open looks from deep, Tramon Mark and Jarace Walker will need to find consistency from the perimeter as +35% three-point shooters. Until others step up to stretch out the defense, Sasser will need all the help he can get.

Battle of the boards

Every under tickets nightmare, second chance points. Luckily Houston is weak at offensive rebounding while the Gaels do a fantastic job at limiting opposing second chance opportunities, a staple of their defense. Houston’s size should also limit the Gaels chances on the other end. With limited offensive rebounding on both ends, scoring will be at a premium.

Verdict

With both defenses firing on all cylinders and limiting each other’s quality of scoring opportunities, I will take the under should this total continue to rise. Couple the lack of second chance points with a snail’s pace tempo and we should be poised to cash our ticket at the window.

Kody is a sports betting writer here at Lineups. He specializes in college sports as well as the NFL and NBA. He won’t quit believing in the Lions Super Bowl chances even when they are eliminated.

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