NCAA Tournament Betting: Duke vs. Houston Picks, Prop Bets and Odds

Skyler Carlin
Skyler Carlin@skyler_carlin

Very few things on the sports calendar can match the excitement and unpredictability of the NCAA Tournament. So why not add betting to the mix via the college basketball odds at FanDuel Sportsbook?

The 2024 edition of the big dance has arrived, and here at FanDuel Research, we'll have you covered with a betting guide for each game.

The Sweet 16 is littered with exhilarating matchups, including a clash between the Duke Blue Devils and the Houston Cougars. While Duke and Houston compete for a spot in the Elite Eight, which bets are worth taking in Friday's showdown?

All college basketball odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook, and lines may change after this article is published.

NCAA Tournament Betting Picks

Duke vs. Houston Betting Odds

Date and Time: Friday, March 29th at 9:39 p.m. ET

Spread: Houston -4.5 (-104)

Total: 133.5


  • Duke: +155
  • Houston: -188

Duke vs. Houston Statistical Breakdown

Advanced stats from KenPom, Bart Torvik and numberFire.

Duke Blue Devils

  • numberFire Ranking: 10th
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 11th
  • KenPom Ranking: 8th
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 26th
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 7th
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 231st

Houston Cougars

  • numberFire Ranking: 1st
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 1st
  • KenPom Ranking: 2nd
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 2nd
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 17th
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 348th

Duke vs. Houston Best Bet

Houston -4.5 (-104)

Through the first two rounds of the tournament, the Cougars have proven they can win games in a variety of ways. After limiting the Longwood Lancers to only 46 points in the First Round, Houston generated 100 points in their five-point victory over the Texas A&M Aggies in the Second Round.

The Cougars rely on their guard trio of LJ Cryer (15.5 PPG), Jamal Shead (13.2 PPG, 6.4 APG), and Emanuel Sharp (12.8 PPG). While Houston lacks come in the size department -- at least on paper -- and could struggle to contain Kyle Filipowski (16.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG), they do a fantastic job earning extra possessions, recording the 12th-best offensive rebound rate (36.9%).

Additionally, the Cougars don't turn the ball over much, boasting the ninth-best offensive turnover rate (13.7%), while forcing their opponent to make plenty of mistakes with the third-best defensive turnover rate (24.7%). In their first two games in the tourney, Houston has turned the ball over 18 times on offense and generated 29 turnovers on the defensive end.

By playing stifling defense and generating turnovers, the Cougars lead all of college basketball in double-digit scoring runs per game (1.08), per Evan Miya's team ratings. Duke will need to be careful with the basketball as Houston can jump on teams quickly with the Cougars' ability to turn elite defense into points.

Shooting efficiently against the Cougars is also a tall task as they boast the second-best effective field-goal percentage allowed (44.0%).

With Houston having the second-shortest odds to win the National Championship (+550), I'll back head coach Kelvin Sampson and the Cougars to cover the spread and advance to the Elite Eight.

Duke vs. Houston Prop Bet

Emanuel Sharp Over 12.5 Points (-125)

Besides having an experienced guard duo of Cryer and Shead, Sharp has stepped up to the challenge to begin the tournament. The sophomore guard has become a focal point of the offense, registering a team-high -- and game-high -- 30 points versus Texas A&M in the Round of 32.

Volume hasn't been an issue for Sharp, who has taken 10-plus shots in four of his last five games. Sharp has reached 13-plus points in all four of those games in which he logged 10-plus shots, and he's made multiple threes in 13 of his last 17 outings.

Of the 24 games he has converted two-plus three-pointers this season, Sharp has posted 13-plus points in 14 of them. Assuming Sharp can knock down a couple of shots from deep -- he's +132 to make 3+ threes -- he'll be in a prime spot to log 13-plus points on Friday against Duke.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.