Syracuse (+6) Is a Live Dog Saturday Against Houston

Syracuse danced their way to the Sweet 16, but their troupe might not stop there.

The Orange, playing as underdogs in both games, didn’t just cover their spreads. They won their games outright, more than doubling savvy bettors’ investments.

That’s because Syracuse isn’t a dog who barks. They bite, lock on, and shred opponents to pieces. They’ve impressively covered six straight games against the spread, winning five of those games, and are the most undervalued team in the Tournament from a bettor’s perspective.

Before we dive in on Cuse, all odds in this article come from our partners at the FanDuel Sportsbook. Right now, new FanDuel Sportsbook users get an unbelievable 30-to-1 odds boost on the Sweet 16. Bet $5 on any of the Sweet 16 teams to win their game outright, and if they succeed, you’ll profit $150. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.

If you’ve been following closely, it’s apparent that underdogs have been the ticket thus far, going an incredible 30-21 against the spread throughout the NCAA Tournament. It behooves us to recognize this trend and look for the best value underdog on the card, which I firmly believe is Syracuse.

Coming into the Tournament, Syracuse was an average 3-point shooting team, shooting just below 34% from beyond the arc. But in true March Madness fashion, the Orange have come alive, shooting 50% (yes, FIFTY percent) from beyond the arc through two Tournament games. The Buddy Boeheim-led Orange are complemented by other outstanding players, Alan Griffin and Joseph Girard III, who are capable of scoring double digits on any given day.

But it’s not just their shooting wearing down opponents. Head coach Jim Boeheim’s legendary 2-3 zone defense has stifled opponents from the opening tip until the finish. And like a champion heavyweight boxer in the closing minutes, the defense traps opponents, making late-game comebacks virtually impossible. By all accounts, the Orange are a complete unit heading into the Sweet 16.

Ahead is an epic clash against a defensive juggernaut, Houston, who are coming off a comeback win over Rutgers last Sunday, 63-60. Houston has a lot on their side. They’re gritty, relentless and have the 11th ranked defense in the country. When they got punched in the mouth repeatedly throughout the first half against Rutgers, they charged back and won the game in a thriller.

Despite not covering their big 7.5-point spread against Rutgers (I was on them), I can understand why some sports bettors will back Houston’s comparatively big spread against Syracuse. Many times, hard-fought comebacks serve as wake-up calls. Nearly every elite group has a wake-up call throughout the season. But I don’t buy the notion that Houston is dancing amongst the elites, not after they shot just 37.3% from the field even against a decent Rutgers defense.

While I never want to discredit what the Cougars have accomplished this season, it’s hard to argue against the fact that they’ve played one of the easiest schedules of all the Sweet 16 teams. KenPom ranked Houston 102nd in adjusted strength of schedule, compared to Syracuse’s 57th ranked schedule. Their not-so-strong opposition makes their elite defensive rating less vital to me, though generally, you’d prefer to back the better defense during the late March Madness rounds.

That said, no matter how much we sports bettors love calling our picks "locks," there’s no such thing as a lock. Players still have to play 40 minutes, coaches need to scheme, and referees need to call an even game.

It’s also imperative to highlight potential outliers.

First things first, Syracuse’s unbelievable shooting will regress at some point. You can’t expect any team to consistently make half their shots, much less one overperforming their season average by a significant margin. Houston holds opponents to just 29.3 percent beyond the arc.

Syracuse isn’t a great defensive rebounding team, ranking 340th this year, whereas Houston dominates the boards in wins as they did against Rutgers.

But picking March Madness winners is all about playing the hot hand. The Orange are undoubtedly on fire from beyond the arc, while Houston is playing stale basketball, susceptible to scoring droughts. Syracuse has also proven they can win, even if they lose the rebound battle as they did against West Virginia last week. This is why I’m backing Syracuse this weekend.

Before you come for my head and accuse me of buying into darling hype, remember, I recommended the Orange in the Round of 32 versus West Virginia. If you tailed, you likely ended your weekend with a significant return on investment. Syracuse wasn’t a “dark horse” pick by any means. It was a read on the market, who has made a killing off the betting public, who are mainly betting favorites throughout the Tournament.

But I’m not just betting Syracuse to cover their +6 spread on Saturday – I’m betting them to win outright.

If you want to play it safe and take the spread, I’d never knock you for it. As a reminder, Syracuse has impressively covered six straight games against the spread. However, they’ve also won five of those games outright, giving reason to believe that if Syracuse covers Saturday, they’ve got an incredible chance to win outright. With that in mind, the +215 moneyline is what I’m targeting for a potentially huge payday.

Underdogs aren’t supposed to win, so if it loses, I won’t kick myself. But, undoubtedly, Syracuse is a live dog ready to attack on Saturday.

Syracuse will play Houston on Saturday, March 27 at 9:55 p.m. ET. The game will air live on TBS. The Cougars are 6-point favorites in the FanDuel Sportsbook, as of this writing.

FanDuel Sportsbook users: Don’t forget to take advantage of your 30-to-1 odds boost on the Sweet 16. Bet $5 on any of the Sweet 16 teams to win their game outright, and if they succeed, you’ll profit $150. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.

Erick Valenciano is a sports betting writer for OutKick. For more betting tips, follow @ErickValenciano on Twitter. Make sure you’re following our sports betting account, too: @OutKickBets.