TCU Horned Frogs vs. Texas Longhorns
Line: TCU -2.5
Where: Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena, Fort Worth, Texas
When: Wednesday, 3/1 at 9:00 p.m. ET
The No. 9 Texas Longhorns will try to stay alive for the Big 12 regular-season title when they face the No. 22 TCU Horned Frogs on Wednesday night.
Texas can clinch a share of the conference title with a win on Wednesday and a win over No. 3 Kansas on Saturday. The Longhorns are also eyeing a season sweep of TCU after an 18-point comeback win on Jan. 11, winning for the eighth time in the last nine matchups between the rivals.
They fell out of first place in the Big 12 standings on Saturday, losing to No. 9 Baylor in an 81-72 final while Kansas won for the sixth straight time. TCU had lost five of its last six games before beating Texas Tech in an 83-82 final over the weekend, springing the upset as a 2-point underdog.
Offshore sportsbook BetOnline opened TCU as a 1-point favorite on Tuesday afternoon after being a 6.5-point underdog in the first matchup. Wednesday night’s total opened at 150, which is significantly higher than the Jan. 11 meeting (143.5) that featured 154 points.
By early this morning, most shops had adjusted TCU to a 2.5-point ‘chalk’ with the total slightly reduced to 149.5.
Veteran guard Marcus Carr made the go-ahead 3-pointer with one minute remaining in Texas’ 79-75 win in Austin, helping complete the comeback after trailing by 18 points in the first half. It would have been TCU’s first road win over a top-10 opponent—the Horned Frogs erased an 18-point halftime deficit in their win over Texas in last year’s Big 12 Tournament.
Texas has not had much success on the road of late, losing three straight games to Kansas, Texas Tech and Baylor. The Longhorns held a 14-point lead at one point in the first half against the Bears on Saturday, as Dylan Disu scored a season-high 24 points.
“They (Baylor) got a bit more aggressive on the defensive end and I guess that led to us, you know, turning over the ball and them getting easy offense,” Carr said. “They’re a team that once they get into rhythm, then they start hitting shots and they’re much tougher to defend.”
The Longhorns have only covered the spread once in their last five road games, but they are 8-1 (6-2-1 ATS) in their last nine meetings with TCU. They have gone ‘over’ the total in four of their last six games and in four of their last five games in this series.
TCU is seeking continued success at home, where it has gone 15-4 in its last 19 games. The Horned Frogs bounced back from five losses in a six-game stretch by beating Texas Tech in Saturday’s thriller. Sophomore big man JaKobe Coles knocked down a pair of free throws with 4.3 seconds remaining and TCU held on after blowing a 12-point lead in the final eight minutes.
Coles stepped up in place of center Eddie Lampkin, who was out again due to an ankle injury. Leading scorer Mike Miles Jr. scored 24 points in his third game back from a knee injury that caused him to miss nearly a month of action. The preseason Big 12 Player of the Year bounced back from a 4 of 14 shooting night against Kansas last Monday.
“Mike hit some clutch shots,” TCU head coach Jamie Dixon said. “He’s back now. I kind of said that we needed probably two games under (his) belt. That’s just how the world works when you’re out that long.”
Wednesday night’s game will be played at a fast pace, as both teams rank inside the top 50 nationally in average possession length. They are both experienced teams as well, with Texas at No. 8 and TCU at No. 68 (of 363).
The pick: Texas +2.5
I am much higher on Texas than TCU overall this season, which makes this a pretty straightforward pick for me at this point in the year. The Longhorns have the experience I am looking for in March, and they also have more overall talent in this matchup. They are still alive for a share of the Big 12 title with a game against Kansas coming up on Saturday. TCU could be missing Lampkin again on Wednesday night, while Texas has a healthy roster coming into this game. I’ll take the team that has dominated this series to win outright or cover as a small underdog.