NCAA Basketball Pick: Tournament Play of the Day Saturday

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, March 22, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

Every day this NCAA post-season, LT Profits Sports seeks one single tournament play that has the best chance of cashing. Here is their Tournament Play of the Day Saturday.

The seven-seeds in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament could be overlays Saturday evening when those Texas Longhorns (24-10, 8-8 away/neutral) take on the second seeded Michigan Wolverines (26-8, 13-6 away/neutral) from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI at 5:15 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Texas as a moderate underdog for this contest with the current line at +4½ with odds of -102.

Neither team was particularly impressive in its second round win, although Michigan didn’t really need to be as it was still dominant in a 57-40 win over the Wofford Terriers. While the Wolverines may have intentionally left some gas in the tank vs. an outclassed opponent, it is always dangerous when you then try and flip the switch back on in the next game vs. a better team.

The Longhorns at least played a major-conference team in the Arizona State Sun Devils and Texas did look good until building a 14-point lead in the second half. They then relinquished that lead with some uncharacteristically shoddy defense and needed a Cameron Ridley basket at the buzzer to escape with the 87-85 triumph in a much higher scoring game than expected.

You see, the biggest Texas strength all season has been its defense, so it was a bit disconcerting that the Horns allowed Arizona State to shoot 48.2 percent for the game, as Texas is ranked 46th in the country in defensive efficiency and 52nd in effective field goal percentage allowed at just 46.2 percent. That figure is keyed by ranking 14th in two-point defense at a mere 43.0 percent.

To their credit, the Longhorns did hold the Sun Devils to just 19-of-41 shooting on their two-point attempts, and although that 46.3 percent figure is higher than what Texas has allowed inside over the entire season, it is still extremely good. However, ASU stayed in the game and was able to come back by shooting 8-for-15, 53.3 percent from three-point land.

Sure Michigan is one of the better three-point shooting teams in the land, but if Texas continues to play smothering defense inside, we like the chances of the Longhorns taking this game right down to the wire, and it is not as if Texas cannot defend the three as it did rank third inside the Big 12 during conference play in three-point defense at 33.3 percent.

Yes, Michigan is third in the country in offensive efficiency and eighth in effective field goal percentage at a blazing 55.5 percent, but again the Wolverines need to hit a very high percentage of shots to win games because they are a poor offensive rebounding team, ranking a dreadful 262nd in the land by grabbing their own misses shots only 28.8 percent of the time against a national average of 31.4 percent.

So what happens when the Wolverines face a defense that can actually defend? Well Michigan lost handily in the Big Ten Championship Game 69-55 to Michigan State when the Spartans held them to 31.5 percent shooting and outrebounded them 37-23!

And that brings up to another area where Texas can stay in this game and possibly even pull an upset, as the Longhorns should dominate the offensive glass. While Michigan hardly ever gets many second opportunities as previously mentioned, Texas is ranked a fantastic seventh in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at 39.2 percent! Not only can that lead to easy put-back baskets, but also to extended possessions to keep the ball away from the Michigan offense.

Add this all up and the points seem worth taking with Texas in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas +4½ (-102)