NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas Defense With Edge Over Stanford

Willie Bee

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 1:30 PM GMT

Texas has two more college basketball odds matchups before a tough Big 12 slate begins, and the first is Tuesday night at home against an upset-minded Stanford squad

Rick Barnes and his coaching staff are presently focused on the Stanford Cardinal, up next on the college basketball betting slate for the Texas Longhorns. Rest assured, however, that Barnes and his assistants are already looking ahead and making preparations for what should be a very tough Big 12 conference schedule that is just around the corner.

Texas heads into Tuesday's tilt as the highest-ranked squad in the Big 12 which is represented by five teams in both top 25 polls and has seven entries among the first 27 on Ken Pomeroy's list. Tip-off at Austin's Erwin Center is set for a little past 7 PM (ET), and the Longhorns are favored by 10½ at most shops, others listing them -11. SBR's live NCAA basketball odds will have the total a little later this morning.

This is the fourth meeting between schools, the first clash coming on the Cardinal's home floor in 1962 and the last two taking place at neutral sites in 2001 and 2008. Stanford won that initial matchup while Texas dubya'd in the two recent get-togethers.

The 2008 battle came during the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, Texas coasting to an 82-62 in a strong overall shooting performance led by DJ Augustin's 23 points. The Longhorns were a 2-seed against No. 3 Stanford and favored by 2 in a game that went past a 134 point total with 10 to spare.

Find out which in today's NCAA Basketball odds are worth a wager.

'Horns Should Have Sizeable Edge On Defense
Texas was the top choice according to college basketball futures odds to end Kansas' string of 10 consecutive regular season titles in the Big 12 and came into the season ranked in the top 10, so it's really no surprise to see Barnes' bunch sitting ninth in the two conventional polls. The lone setback to date came at No. 1 Kentucky, a game in which the Longhorns took a 26-26 tie into halftime before just managing the eventual cover.

They've managed to build a 10-1 record without having guard Isaiah Taylor for the past eight games, the sophomore still sidelined by a broken left wrist. He could be back as early as Texas' conference opener at Texas Tech on January 3, and the absence of their floor general has definitely hurt the Longhorns offensively.

It hasn't affected the real strengths of this team, rebounding and defense. Texas is tied for third in the country averaging 45.1 boards a contest, and first on the defensive end where Connor Lammert, Jonathan Holmes and Myles Turner have done an outstanding job limiting teams to just one shot each trip down the court. The Longhorns are also 6th-best holding opponents to just over 53 points per game and third in field goal percentage (31.4).

 

Cardinal In Search Of 1st Road Victory
Stanford has a fine trio of glaziers as well, as Stefan Nastic, Anthony Brown and Reid Travis are combing to scrape the glass more than 21 times a night between them. They'll need to continue that against the Longhorns, especially on the defensive end to deny Texas 2nd-chance opportunities.

Johnny Dawkins' group was seen as a bit of a dark horse in the Pac-12 this season, fifth on the preseason odds at 8/1 behind the likes of Arizona, UCLA, Utah and Colorado. The Cardinal are coming off a disappointing 79-77 loss at BYU this past Saturday when their rally fell short, though they did manage to cover with the help from 4½ the college basketball oddsmakers were giving them. It was Stanford's second road defeat of the schedule in as many tries, and fourth straight going back to last March's conference slate.

My early assignments have not gone well for college basketball bettors, unless they've been fading me, so perhaps this free NCAA Basketball pick on the Longhorns will help get things turned around.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas -10½

Season: 3-8 (-5.80)