NCAA Basketball Picks: Defensive-Minded Texas To Hang With Oklahoma Tonight

Charles Stark

Monday, February 8, 2016 11:38 AM UTC

Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 11:38 AM UTC

Oklahoma face a tough test against rival Texas today. I think as we look closer at this game, there might be some value in backing the Longhorns with our NCAA basketball picks.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas +8
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


NCAA Basketball Odds Overview
NCAA basketball odds have come out making Texas a +8 underdog like at Pinnacle -106. This is good value, in my opinion, on a good Texas team that has played well on the road. I could see why people would want to back Oklahoma in this spot because they recently got upset. However, for my NCAA basketball picks, I will back the Longhorns getting the points.


Texas Longhorns
Texas is averaging 72.9 points per game while shooting 43.7% from the field, and allowing 66.9 points per game on 39.7% shooting from the field. On the season, they are 11-11 overall against the spread, and 5-5 on the road. Head Coach Shaka Smart has done more than an admirable job with this squad and they are not intimidated by anybody. He is a winning basketball coach, and I don't look for anything less than a tremendous effort tonight from them against an extremely good Oklahoma team. As well, I think they catch Oklahoma in a nice spot coming off a shocking loss and having Kansas up on the calendar next. Offensively, they have not done anything special and average mostly just subpar statistics across the board. What they have done well though is control tempo and protect the basketball as they rank 23rd in the country in turnovers per game. Defense is where it is all about when we look at Texas, and they will have to play a superior type to even come close to pulling off the shocker. Texas ranks 26th in the country and opponent overall shooting percentage, and they allow opponents to shoot 43.1% on their two-point shots which ranks them 23rd. They are also decent in defending beyond the arc, which will be the point of contention tonight, allowing opponents just 32.8% from distance. This team has been road warriors recently pulling off upsets at West Virginia and at Baylor. Although I don't think they win tonight, I do believe odds makers have overvalued Oklahoma just a bit too much.


Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma's averaging 85 points per game while shooting 47.5% from the field, and allowing 72 points per game on 40% shooting from the field. On the season, they are 10-10 overall against the spread, and 5-4 at home. I've been impressed with head coach Lon Kruger and the job he has done taking Oklahoma from good to elite status. Offensively, they rank first in the country shooting 45.3% from distance and are basically one of the best offenses in the country. Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 in field goals and three-pointers made per game, shooting efficiency, and effective field-goal percentage. They are not an easy team to stop and push tempo about as much as anybody in the country. With one of the nation's best players in Buddy Hield leading the way this team could make some serious noise in March. The issue tonight will be on the other side of the ball where Oklahoma has slipped in their defensive statistics the past few weeks. They still rank in the better part of the country in opponent shooting efficiency and overall percentage, but they do allow opponents to shoot 33.1% from beyond the arc which places them just outside of the top 100 teams. Against Texas, I believe the issue for them tonight will be the fact that along with wanting to push tempo, they allow opponents to run with them. On the season, Oklahoma has allowed opponents an incredible 66.1 field-goal attempts per game which ranks them almost last in college basketball. They have made up for this fact by their tremendous offense, but as the competition gets stiffer, this kind of pace allowed could come back to hurt them.

Although Oklahoma is in a decent bounce back situation coming home to face a rival, I like how Texas has played defensively this season and on the road. I wouldn't expect Oklahoma to overlook Texas even with Kansas looming large on their next game, but that is still something that is hard to ignore. For my NCAA pick today, I will back a quality Texas team plus the points to hang with Oklahoma.

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