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No. 12 Oregon State vs. No. 2 Houston preview, picks for the Elite Eight round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Oregon State Beavers and Houston Cougars meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Elite Eight round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Can Oregon State keep the magical run going?

The No. 2 seed Houston Cougars will see anther double-digit seed for the fourth straight NCAA Tournament game when they take on the 12th-seeded Oregon State Beavers. Houston’s defense led to a victory over the Syracuse Orange, and Oregon State shut down the Loyola Chicago Ramblers to earn their third straight tournament win as the underdog. Both teams took different paths to get here, but they’re a win away from the Final Four.

The Elite Eight matchup will tip off at 7:15 p.m. ET on Monday, March 29th from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with Houston coming in as the favorite. This game can be seen on CBS.

No. 12 Oregon State 20-12 (10-10 Pac-12)

First Round: Defeated No. 5 Tennessee 70-56
Second Round: Defeated No. 4 Oklahoma State 80-70
Third Round: Defeated No. 8 Loyola Chicago 65-58
KenPom rating: 43 Overall, 35 Offense, 64 Defense
Leading scorer: Ethan Thompson (15.6 ppg)
Key stat of tournament: Oregon State made 56 of 65 free throws in the NCAA Tournament for 86.2% from the line.

The Oregon State Beavers only made the NCAA Tournament by winning three straight games in the Pac-12 Tournament, so as they find themselves in the Elite Eight, this will be their seventh consecutive game in which a loss ends their season. Wayne Tinkle’s squad has been living on the edge, but this has been an incredible run.

Ethan Thompson is the leading scorer for the Beavers, and the senior has continued a strong season into the NCAA Tournament. He has been a big reason for Oregon State’s dominance from the free throw line, making 25 of 26 shots from the line.

Watch for Oregon State to limit Houston from the three-point line. The Beavers allow opponents to make 29.8% of shots from beyond the arc, the lowest mark in the Pac-12.

No. 2 Houston 27-3 (14-3 AAC)

First Round: Defeated No. 15 Cleveland State 87-56
Second Round: Defeated No. 10 Rutgers 63-60
Third Round: Defeated No. 11 Syracuse 62-46
KenPom rating: 3 Overall, 6 Offense, 11 Defense
Leading scorer: Quentin Grimes (18.1 ppg)
Key stat of tournament: Houston has an average rebounding margin of +11 through three games in the tournament.

The Houston Cougars received an easy path to the Final Four, but they’re taking advantage of it with three wins. Houston held Syracuse to just 46 points in the Sweet 16 and allowed the Orange to shoot just 28% from the floor including 21.7% from the three-point line. If the Cougars clamp down on the defensive end like that again on Monday night, they should move on to the Final Four.

Quentin Grimes is Houston’s leading scorer and is a dangerous three-point shooter. He knocked down at least four 3-pointers in eight of the last nine games including each of the last six.

Watch for Houston to have a big advantage in rebounding. The Cougars have a +9.3 rebounding margin this season to lead the AAC, while Oregon State is at +1.1.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Houston -8
Point total: 129
Moneyline: Houston -385, Oregon State +290

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Houston -7.5
Point total pick: Under
Pick to Win: Houston

The under is the best play in this spot because of the way these two teams play. Oregon State ranks No. 307 in possessions per game, while Houston plays even slower at 309. Defensively, Houston limit Syracuse to 46 points, and Loyola Chicago went for just 58 points against Oregon State in their last time out. The spread is tough to call, but let’s go with the favorites to cover the spread. The difference in KenPom ratings between Houston and Oregon State is sizeable, and the Cougars should be the much better team to advance to the Final Four.

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