NCAA Basketball Picks: Syracuse Orange To Roll Texas Southern Tigers

Doug Upstone

Sunday, December 27, 2015 1:27 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015 1:27 PM UTC

With the Christmas break over, it is back to work for Texas Southern and Syracuse, as they meet in Sunday matinee. We break down the NCAA basketball odds for tonight.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse -17
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


Texas Southern Too Ambitious a Schedule
Former Indiana coach Mike Davis is the head coach at Texas Southern and in just three seasons, he has made the Tigers a SWAC power, with 44-10 record and two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Losing conference player of the year Madarious Gibbs was overlooked in some circles, along with two other starters because Malcolm Riley and Chris Thomas were returning.

As it turns out, Texas Southern's schedule has been too strong , with them posting ugly 1-9 record (0-2 ATS). Riley and Thomas have done their jobs from scoring perspective at 18.2 and 14.3 points a game respectively. However, they have played eight road games already at places like New Mexico, Creighton, Washington State, Mississippi State, Clemson and always tough Iona.

They have been overwhelmed in losing by 14.9 points a game, not being able to play the kind of defense necessary at that level, permitting over 50 percent shooting seven times.


Not the Syracuse Team We are Used To Seeing
The Orange are 9-3 (6-5 ATS) which, on the surface, does not appear to bad. However, when making NCAA Basketball picks and expecting to win, you have to keep peeling off the surface to find answers. Syracuse has lost three times to teams with respectable brand names in Wisconsin, Georgetown and St. John's.

The problem here is all three of those teams are down this year, with each squad already with at least five defeats and conference play has not yet started. Syracuse still has some good players like leading scorer Michael Gbinije (18.9) and fellow senior Terry Cooney (13.5). A couple of the freshmen look to have real upsides like Malachi Richardson (12.3) and Tyler Lydon (10.1 and 7.5 RPG), but like most first year players are inconsistent.

This has been especially true on offense, where Syracuse has already shot less than 40 percent five times, in spite of playing 10 home games. It probably will not matter in this contest, but if you are looking ahead to ACC action, this is a concern.


What Bettors Need to Know
Against teams less familiar with Syracuse 2-3 zone defense, chances are they will have a hard time scoring. To this point, this is not your usual sticky Orange zone we have seen for years. It has lacked the on the ball pressure of the past and does not have the shot blockers who can swat away mistakes when opponents get in the paint.

Look for Syracuse to run on missed shots from Texas Southern and attack the rim when possible. The Tigers has shown little inclination to play defense beyond two or three passes and can be broken down off the dribble.


What to Expect and Spread Winner
Sometimes these Sunday afternoon games get off to sluggish starts. Heritage sent out NCAA Basketball odds with Syracuse favored by 17 and it would not be a shocker if they only had a single digit lead at halftime given Texas Southern's record.

But when the game gets into the second half, the Tigers inability to crack the Orange's zone defense and how poorly they play on defense, Syracuse will put together a couple runs which will push their lead above the spread and they will hang on to win by 20 points.

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