Texas has won its last six, including the Big 12 Tournament title, and is 6-0-1 ATS in its last seven. Texas looks sharp and tenacious on defense, holding its last five opponents to 38% shooting as opposed to 42% on the season. I like Texas to keep rolling and cover. its sweet 16 matchup against Xavier on Friday.
If Xavier had Zach Freemantle, it's a Final Four team in my opinion. If I didn't eat Ramen noodles for two-plus decades, I wouldn't have the digestive system of a dyspeptic giraffe. The world is full of ifs. Always been a bit of a Xavier fan, and I hope the Teers do win but Texas is locked in, allowing just 58.2 ppg over its last six games. XU can't compete on that end. The Horns better give interim coach Rodney Terry the full-time job soon or some other school sure will. Minor advantage in that UT knows the gym, having won the Big 12 Tournament in KC. I have no interest in a 4-point spread. Be aware that the SportsLine Curse is now active.
We've got two very good teams, but I'm going to side with the Longhorns who appear to be the better team on both ends. Texas has simply been rolling and should do a great job containing Xavier's offense while being able to attack offensively along the perimeter and inside. When the Longhorns gets rolling, they can really pull away, and I don't think a two-possession spread is too much to handle.
As an Arizona fan who watched Sean Miller teams fall short in the NCAA Tournament year-after-year, I know that Xavier is overdue. The Musketeers have been great this season and shot the lights out against Pittsburgh in Round 2. But the reason Texas wins and covers on Friday night is defense. During their current six game winning streak, Texas has given up 59, 47, 60, 56, 61, and 66 points. The lowest number of points that Xavier has scored in a win this year is 72, ironically in their first round game against Kennesaw State. I believe that Texas' elite defense holds up and the Musketeers are held to the mid-60s, while Texas scores at least in the low-70s.
Texas could win a national championship. Xavier could win a national championship. But they have to get through this one first which is why I love the under here. You can't win the game early but you can sure put yourself into position to lose it. Expect both teams to focus on good perimeter defense, winning the defensive rebounding battle and not forcing low percentage shots on offense. Take your time, make the extra pass and run the plays as they were drawn on the board. Reckless on offense will get you sent home. All of this leads to using the shot clock in full, extended periods of scoreless minutes and not falling into cheap fouls. Will be a great game, take the under and enjoy it.
Texas is a much deeper team than Xavier. The Musketeers really only play six players for most of the game, especially without Zach Freemantle who hasn’t played since 1/28. Xavier shoots the three very well at 55.4 percent on the season but have shot 26.8 percent over their last three games. The Longhorns have the guard play to contain the perimeter, making shots difficult. Texas had a poor shooting performance against Penn State, so there may be progression from beyond the arc. They’re also the better free throw shooting team over each teams last three games, 77.4 percent to 62.7 percent. The Longhorns have the 10th best defense in terms of efficiency and I’m willing to back the better defense in March. I’m on Texas.
The Longhorns sport a top-15 offense and defense per KenPom, while the Musketeers are elite offensively but mediocre defensively. Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter should be able to penetrate at will, while Dylan Disu (14 of 20 last game) is averaging 16.5 points over his last eight games. Texas holds opponents to 42.1 percent shooting. The Longhorns had covered six straight, by an average of more than nine points, until pushing versus Penn State. Texas shot 1 of 13 from deep in that five-point win. Look for the more balanced Longhorns, playing in Kansas City where they rolled through the Big 12 Tournament, to advance and cover.