Intriguing teams from the Midwest Region face off in a 2023 NCAA Tournament matchup in Birmingham on Saturday. The No. 1 seed Houston Cougars face the No. 9 Auburn Tigers in a second round tilt with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Auburn aims to pull the upset, and the Tigers enter at 21-12 overall after a first round win over Iowa. Houston is 32-3 overall, including 14 wins in the last 15 games, and the Cougars knocked off No. 16 seed Northern Kentucky in the first round.

Caesars Sportsbook lists the Cougars as 5.5-point favorites for this 7:10 p.m. ET tip. The total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, or the over/under, is 132 in the latest Houston vs. Auburn odds. Before locking in any Auburn vs. Houston picks, you need to see the college basketball predictions and March Madness betting advice SportsLine's advanced computer simulation model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every Division I college basketball game 10,000 times. The model enters the 2023 NCAA Tournament 79-53 on all-top rated college basketball picks this season, returning nearly $1,300 for $100 players. Anybody who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Auburn vs. Houston and just locked in its picks and March Madness predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see the model's picks. Now, here are several college basketball betting lines and trends for Auburn vs. Houston:

  • Auburn vs. Houston spread: Houston -5
  • Auburn vs. Houston over/under: 132 points 
  • Auburn vs. Houston money line: Houston -230, Auburn +190
  • AUB: The Tigers are 4-5-1 against the spread in the last 10 games 
  • HOU: The Cougars are 3-7 against the spread in the last 10 games 
  • Auburn vs. Houston picks: See picks at SportsLine

Why Auburn can cover

Auburn has strong offensive balance, including four players averaging in double figures this season. The Tigers are led by Johni Broome, with the veteran big man averaging 14.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season. Broome also shined in the first round win over Iowa, scoring 19 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and blocking five shots. Auburn is securing nearly 33% of missed shots on the offensive glass this season, and the Tigers are also shooting 51% on 2-point attempts while generating nearly 21 free throw attempts per game. 

On defense, Auburn is in the top five nationally in 3-point defense, yielding 28.7% from beyond the arc, and the Tigers are blocking 13.8% of shot attempts. Auburn is holding opponents to 47% from 2-point range, and the Tigers are creating a turnover on 19.1% of possessions. That includes an 11.5% steal rate, and Auburn is giving up only 11.2 assists per game.

Why Houston can cover

Houston is dealing with injury concerns in its backcourt as Marcus Sasser battles through a groin injury, but the Cougars have a frontcourt standout in All-AAC forward Jarace Walker. He is a projected lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, and Walker produced 16 points and six rebounds in the first round win. Houston is in the top 12 of the country in adjusted offensive efficiency, and the Cougars are in the top five in offensive rebound rate, grabbing 37.4% of missed shots this season. Houston should also be able to get to the line against an Auburn team that allows 21.9 free throw attempts per game, and the Tigers struggle on the defensive glass. 

From there, Houston's defense is top-tier across the board, with top-five marks in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency and scoring defense. Houston leads the nation in opponent shooting, and the Cougars block more than 16% of opponent shot attempts. The Cougars create a turnover on 21.7% of defensive possessions, and opponents average only 10.0 assists per game against Houston.

How to make Auburn vs. Houston picks

SportsLine's model is leaning Over on the total, with both teams capable of creating defensive havoc that leads to transition offense. The model also says one side of the spread hits in almost 70% of simulations. You can only see the model's pick at SportsLine

So who wins Auburn vs. Houston? And which side of the spread hits in almost 70% of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Auburn vs. Houston spread you need to jump on Saturday, all from the model that has crushed its college basketball picks, and find out.