NCAAB

NCAA Tournament Betting: Longwood vs. Houston Picks and Odds

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD
NCAA Tournament Betting: Longwood vs. Houston Picks and Odds

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.

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

NCAA Tournament Betting Picks

Longwood vs. Houston Betting Odds

Date and Time: Friday, March 22nd, 9:20 p.m. ET

Spread: Houston -23.5 (-110)

Total: 127.5

Moneyline:

  • Longwood: +2400
  • Houston: -10000

Longwood vs. Houston Statistical Breakdown

Advanced stats from KenPom, Bart Torvik and numberFire.

Longwood

  • numberFire Ranking: 161st
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 170th
  • KenPom Ranking: 158th
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 146th
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 188th
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 227th

Houston

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

Longwood vs. Houston Best Bet

Longwood 1st Half +14.5 (-114)

Betting against a 1 seed never feels great, but Longwood isn't your usual 16 seed. The Lancers are by far the top 16 seed by numberFire's metrics, profiling closer to a 15 based on their nERD -- an indicator of expected point differential over an average opponent on a neutral floor. While I worry about Longwood holding up over a full 40 minutes against Houston, I like them to keep things (relatively) close in the 1st half, covering 14.5 in the process.

Straight away, 14.5 is a fairly lofty spread when you consider the 1st half total is just 59.5 points. Longwood doesn't play especially fast to begin with, and it's hard to imagine them pushing the pace against Houston's 348th-ranked adjusted tempo. A low-scoring first period would do wonders for this spread, and Longwood's D has a sneaky-strong chance to contain Houston's offensive attack.

The Lancers are a slightly better defensive than offensive team, and they do a good job on the glass on both ends. That will be a key element against the Cougars' 12th-ranked offensive rebounding, though the 16 seed would be wise to limit turnovers. Houston is third in forced turnover rate, while Longwood is 257th in turnover rate. That's not great, but the Lancers are 45th in forced turnover rate themselves. That, along with their work on the offensive glass, should help offset their own turnover woes.

Houston's offense will be tough for Longwood to defend, but the Cougars aren't at full strength. Fourth-leading scorer and leading rebounder J'Wan Roberts was injured in the semifinal of the Big 12 tournament. He managed to suit up for the 'ship but played just 13 minutes. Houston had already lost backup big man Joe Tugler for the season a few weeks back, so the Cougars could be thin down low.

Roberts' status for Friday's game has yet to be determined, but if he's limited then Houston's offense would take a big hit. According to CBB Analytics, the Cougars' net rating drops a whopping 16.5 points with Roberts and Tugler off the floor. Their offense takes the biggest hit, going from 117.9 points per 100 possessions to 105.1.

A limited Roberts would be impactful for their defense, too. Longwood seldom takes outside shots, preferring to pound the paint. The Lancers are 338th nationally in three-point attempt rate but 49th in two-point attempt rate and 54th in free throw rate.

Even if Roberts can go, Houston has a track record of slow starts in the NCAA Tournament. In their last four tournaments, Kelvin Sampson's squad has faced four double-digit seeds in the first round. They've led by 3, 9, 8, and 9 in those games -- the most recent of which came last year when they went into halftime leading the 16 seed Northern Kentucky by 3, eventually winning by just 11 points.

Longwood's ability to create extra possessions should come in handy early on, and I like them to give Houston a game in the first half and cover +14.5.


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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.