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Duke vs. Houston Expert Pick – March 29, 2024

Duke vs. Houston Expert Pick – March 29, 2024

DUKE VS. HOUSTON EXPERT PICK – MARCH 29, 2024 – The Houston Cougars are coming off a classic game against Texas A&M in the second round and draw one of the scariest teams left.

Duke throttled James Madison in the second round and earned a Sweet 16 appearance for the first time under head coach John Scheyer. This matchup has the makings of a great game, which will start at 9:40 p.m. EST on Friday, with coverage on CBS.

Check out the Godzilla Wins Daily Staff Picks page.

Related: Sweet 16 Power Rankings

The Odds 







(24-8 SU) 






(30-4 SU)






When: Friday, March 29 at 9:39 p.m. EST 

Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX


Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of March 27th, 2024

Duke vs. Houston Head-To-Head

Duke routed both opponents on their road to the Sweet 16. They beat Vermont 64 to 47 in the first round and 12th-seed JMU 93 to 55 in the next round. The Blue Devils had a relatively easy path on the first weekend, beating two double-digit seeds, but do not doubt their talent. Their starting five is as good as any in the country and should give Houston a fight.

Houston held Longwood to 46 points in the first round and won by 40. They followed that up with an overtime game against A&M, which saw four starters foul out down the stretch. Their bench players stepped up, including a walk-on Ryan Elvin, who knocked down a free throw to give the Cougars a four-point lead with 17 seconds left. They held on and navigated past the Aggies, who gave them a run for their money.

Duke vs. Houston In-Season Trends

Duke and Houston may be the second-most intriguing matchup in the Sweet 16. Duke is the fifth-ranked offense in adjusted efficiency on KenPom, and the Cougars are ranked second in adjusted defensive efficiency. Houston hustles nonstop and does not let their opponents have easy baskets, but they could have trouble with Duke’s starting five. Houston is slightly undersized, especially compared to Duke. Kyle Filipowski is a seven-footer who can stretch the floor and get to the rim. Houston may not have a defender that can stop him down low.

The Cougars must force turnovers against the Blue Devils and get them off rhythm. They average 9.9 steals this season, while Duke only turns the ball over 9.3 times per game. The Blue Devils have only averaged 7.3 turnovers per game since the beginning of March, so Houston may struggle to find steals.

Houston’s offense is no slouch, though. They rank 14th in adjusted offensive efficiency, while Duke’s defense is 19th in adjusted efficiency. Jamal Shead, L.J. Cryer, and Emmanuel Sharp have been tremendous this season, but Sharp has come on strong in the tournament. He is shooting 50% from three and has been a clutch free-throw shooter at 84.7%. The Cougars will need a big game from all three to hang around with Duke, who averages 79.8 points per game on 48.2% shooting from the field.

Another tidbit to mention is Jeremy Roach, who dislocated his finger in the game against JMU but played through it. He will likely play through the injury again, but it could hinder Duke’s second-leading scorer and best three-point shooter.

Related: Alabama vs. North Carolina Pick and Prediction

The Pick

Duke has been rounding into form over the past two months and should be in their best form for their first Sweet 16 game under Scheyer. Filipowski and Mark Mitchell should have a height advantage in the post, which should help them offensively.

The Cougars’ guards will be hounding them around the perimeter, but they can make up for it by getting the ball inside where they have the advantage. Duke may not win this game over the experienced Houston squad in Dallas, but I expect them to keep it close until the end.

Trent’s Picks

Duke +4 

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