NCAA Basketball Picks: Texas Tech To Hold Off TCU In Big 12 Battle

Doug Upstone

Monday, January 18, 2016 2:43 PM UTC

Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 2:43 PM UTC

On Martin Luther King Day, we get a Big 12 matchup between Texas Tech and TCU. Join us as we preview this game and give you the best NCAA basketball picks.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas Tech -2.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Texas Tech and TCU are both 1-4 in league play and the other aspect they have in common is each lone conference victory has come against Texas. Tonight on ESPNU at 7:00 Eastern, one of these squads can start trying to climb up in the standings in what basketball rating expert Jeff Sagarin has as the toughest conference in college basketball.

For this Big 12 battle on Martin Luther King Day, let's learn more about each team and come up with a winner for NCAA basketball picks.


Texas Tech Needs to Toughen Up
After starting 11-1, Texas Tech (11-5, 8-5 ATS), has lost four in a row in league play and overcoming the last loss will not be easy. The Red Raiders were playing Baylor dead even in Lubbock, tied at 60 in the waning seconds when the Bears Lester Medford hits a three-pointer at the buzzer. Coach Tubby Smith will have to regroup his team and depend on senior guards Devaugntah Williams (13.8 points a game) and Toddrick Gotcher (11.3 PPG) to not only carry the scoring load, but to be team leaders also.

Texas Tech averages 73.7 PPG and most them come the hard way be working the ball for better shots, since they only make five three-point baskets a contest on 30.3% shooting and are far worse on the road at only 25.6%. As one might expect, the Red Raiders do good work defensively being a Smith-coached team and opposing teams convert on just 40.7% of attempts and ring up 67.1 PPG.


TCU 's Defense Has to Hard Harder
The Horned Frogs (9-8, 6-5 ATS) have been better than Texas Tech, at least against the NCAA basketball odds in the Big 12 at 3-2 ATS vs. the Red Raiders 1-4 spread mark. As underdogs, besides beating the Longhorns, they have covered against West Virginia and Kansas. Though TCU gives up essentially the same amount of points as tonight's foe (67.7), they do lose focus on the defensive end and get caught out of position, which is why the Mountaineers shot 57.7% and Baylor lit them up for 63.3%. To win this game at home, the Horned Frogs has to play with diligence on defense.

On offense, TCU is rather ordinary at 69.5 PPG on 42.5 percent shooting. They at least have balance with five players averaging between 8.5 to 11.7 points a contest, led by guard Malique Trent, who also is the assist leader. Karvier Shepard is the Frogs main glass-eater at 6.2 boards and he will have to stay out of foul trouble.


What Bettors Need to Know
Texas Tech is 2-3 SU and ATS in all non-home games (0-2 and 1-1 ATS in true roadies), losing by 10 points an outing. The oddmakers made them 2.5-point road favorites, which is the first time they will be in that role this season and this is just their second conflict with one day between games.

TCU is 7-3 and 3-1 ATS at the Schollmaier Arena and this will be the fourth time they will be home underdogs, where they are 3-0 ATS, with one victory, losing by four points a game. With the Horned Frogs coming off spread winner in Lawrence, they are 3-1 ATS after a cover.


What to Expect and Spread Winner
No question a strong case can be made for the home underdog, who has been enjoying success in that role. However, the covers have been coming mostly when receiving a larger volume of points. Granted, they are at home, but Texas Tech is the better defensive team, who is also slightly better in two key areas of close games, turnovers (12 vs. 15 for TCU) and free throws (73.5% vs. 68.7%). The turnover issue is important, because the Horned Frogs are 7-19 ATS at home versus teams committing 12 or fewer turnovers a game and make free throws late to win by 5.

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