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Auburn vs. Houston pick: March Madness predictions, odds, best bets

Without Marcus Sasser — the first-team All-American, who aggravated a groin injury during a tight first-round win over 16-seed Northern Kentucky — Houston won’t reach the Final Four.

Just advancing to the second week is going to be a struggle against an Auburn team playing 110 miles from home in Birmingham, Ala.

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Auburn (+5.5) over Houston

The Cougars could also see limited contributions from third-leading scorer Jamal Shead, who is dealing with a sore knee.

“I’m very concerned,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said.

And he should be, with Auburn’s top-30 defense looming in a de facto road game.

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The Tigers have covered three of four games against ranked teams this season.