1 Baylor vs 2 Houston 4/3 (5:14pm on CBS)
Baylor and Houston will play each other in the first game of the Final Four on April 3rd at 5:14pm Est on CBS. Baylor (26-2) have had an outstanding year and tournament under head coach Scott Drew. The Bears have won their tournament games relatively easily other than their last game against Arkansas. Houston have had a solid run in the tournament but have only played against double digit seeded teams. This is not Houston’s fault since they can only beat who is in front of them. This game will be Houston’s biggest test by far this season making this matchup very intriguing.
Why Baylor will win…
Baylor played a brilliant game against Arkansas in the Elite Eight and have controlled every game this tournament. Baylor are battle tested having played in one of the deepest, toughest conferences in all of college basketball, the Big 12. Baylor’s starting guard’s (Mitchell, Butler and Teague) have been instrumental to their success and continue to play at a high level. Mitchell’s defensive abilities are crucial for Baylor to win this game because when he got in foul trouble against Arkansas, the defensive intensity dropped noticeably. The Bears will need to defensive rebound well which has been a problem at times. Houston is the second best offensive rebounding team so Baylor will need to win the defensive glass to limit Houston’s second chance points. Mark Vital, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchuao and Flo Bamba will be crucial in winning the battle on the defensive glass. Baylor needs Davion Mitchell to stay out of foul trouble and win the battle on the defensive glass to be successful against Houston.
Why Houston will win…
The Cougars played a solid game against Oregon State in the Elite Eight but did not close out the game as well as they would have wanted. Houston was up double digits for most of the game, but Oregon State was able to cut the lead making the last two minutes more interesting than Houston would have liked. Houston did win (67-61) and deservedly so because they were the better team that night. Similarly to Baylor, Houston’s strength is their guard play consisting of Quentin Grimes, Marcus Sasser and Dejohn Jarreau. Sasser and Grimes were exceptional scoring the ball in the Elite Eight and need to keep it going. Jarreau was the star performer because of his defensive effort against Ethan Thompson (Oregon State guard) and his protection of the basketball. Jarreau flirted with a triple double and limited Thompson to 3 of 12 from the field. Houston will need to continue to offensive rebound at their impressive rate since defensive rebounding is a weakness for Baylor. Jarreau will also need to protect the ball like he did last game and play lockdown defense on his man (one of the excellent Baylor guards). Lastly, Sasser and Grimes will need to have big games scoring the ball and play solid defense.
The first Final Four game between Baylor and Houston has the potential to be a classic because of the high level guard play on both teams. Whichever set of guards can win their matchups will likely decide the result of this game. Also the offensive rebounding of Houston versus the defensive rebounding of Baylor will have an impact on this game. Baylor will have the edge in depth with Mayer and Flagler coming off the bench providing instant scoring. This spot in the championship game will be historic for both programs since neither have made a championship game appearance since 1984 (Houston).
Spread: -5 Baylor
Moneyline: Baylor -210, Houston +185
All Stats provided by Sports-refernce.com
All Betting Lines provided by Action Network