Duke vs. Houston Final Score Prediction for NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Mar 22, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach (3) grabs a rebound against the
Mar 22, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach (3) grabs a rebound against the / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Duke and Houston meet on Friday night with a spot in the South Regional Finals on Sunday on the line. 

The Cougars, behind its physical defense and reliable guard play of Jamal Shead, have been one of the best teams in colette basketball all season long. However, Duke is playing elite basketball over the last month or so with a boatload of talent, evident in a blowout win against James Madison in the second round. 

This game is likely going to come down to how Duke handles the physicality of Houston, so let’s take our shot at it and take an educated guess on the final score of this Sweet 16 showdown.  

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Duke vs. Houston Odds, Spread and Total

Duke vs. Houston Expert Prediction

Here’s what I had to say about Duke’s chances against Houston, with an eye on the total. 

Duke has plenty of shot-making, the team is 18th in effective field goal percentage but hasn’t been challenged with an intense ball-pressure defense like Houston’s presents, posting the third-highest turnover rate in the country. 

With the Cougars' ball-trapping defense, the likes of Jeremy Roach will need to swing the ball quickly as the likes of McCain and Tyrese Proctor will be relied on heavily to cash in from beyond the arc. Houston does allow a top 100 rate of threes, but the team contests all of them. Houston is in the 98th percentile in spot-up points allowed per possession at an incredibly high rate (27% of defensive possessions), per Synergy Sports. 

On the other side, I believe Houston’s ability to clean the glass can look similar to how North Carolina dominated Duke on the glass. North Carolina had an offensive rebounding rate north of 25% in both wins against Duke, and Houston is even better than that, 11th in the country instead of 73rd. 

However, Houston is outside the top 200 in effective field goal percentage, so I'm not sure that the team will take full advantage.

In a battle of two teams that want to play slow and in the halfcourt, Duke is 245th in adjusted tempo and Houston is 346th, per KenPom, I’ll go with the under. 

Duke vs. Houston Final Score Prediction 

Again, I’m eyeing the under as a bet, so I believe that this game will be played in the mid-to-low 60’s. 

If Duke is going to win, it’ll come down to late game execution with Jeremy Roach out-dueling Shead and navigating the offense to a win, but I’m not confident in an outright victory. 

Houston’s ability to generate second chances, 11th in offensive rebounding rate, and win the shot volume battle will be the difference in this game. 

However, I believe Duke can keep this close and have a shot to win late, but I’ll go with the more experienced unit in Houston. 

Final Score Prediction: Houston 68, Duke 65

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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