The first really big dose of March Madness takes place Thursday when a rivalry matchup between ranked teams closes out the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament with the Texas Longhorns taking on the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Texas Longhorns
Thursday, March 11, 2021 – 09:30 PM EST at T-Mobile Center
Texas arrives in Kansas City as the third seed in the conference, climbing two spots to No. 13 in the latest AP poll while sticking at No. 16 according to the coaches. The Longhorns closed strong with three road wins in the busy final week of the season, and presently project as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Texas Tech split its final six games of the regular season, sliding down to Nos. 20/22 in the two conventional rankings. The Red Raiders are showing up as either a 5-seed or 6-seed in various NCAA brackets.
Underdogs Cash 7 of Last 10 Matchups
Depending how action across Thursday’s fixture goes, the matchup will be found on either ESPN or ESPN2. FanDuel sent the Red Raiders out as 1½-point chalk for the clash, setting 136½ for the total.
It’s the third meeting between the teams this season, Texas Tech sweeping the regular season series. Texas visited Lubbock a little less than two weeks ago when the Red Raiders administered a 68-59 triumph as 3½-point home chalk. It was knotted 33-apiece at intermission before Texas Tech began the second half on a 19-6 run to take charge. Balanced scoring was behind the dubya as Mac McClung led five Red Raiders in double figures with 16, and the win snapped a 3-game losing streak for Chris Beard’s bunch.
They were in Austin in early-January when online bookmakers closed the Longhorns as 1-point favorites, and McClung was at it again with a game-winning jumper in the closing seconds for a 79-77 Red Raiders victory. Texas blew a 12-point lead in the first half and canned 13 of its 25 shots behind the arc, but turned it over 15 times and missed 13 free throws. The Longhorns have an 87-63 advantage in the rivalry, but Texas Tech has won seven of the last eight meetings.
Tech Just 1-4 ATS in Last 5 Neutral Site Games
In closing a pedestrian 3-3 over the final two weeks, Texas Tech succumbed all three times away from home. The first two of those defeats came at Kansas and Oklahoma State, trailing the Jayhawks the entire time in a 67-61 loss and blowing an 11-point lead in the second half before falling to the Cowboys in overtime. They lost the rebounding battle in each contest, and failed to cover the NCAAB lines either time.
Last Sunday’s game in Waco saw Texas Tech come out flat against Baylor, trailing 10-0 before fighting back. The Red Raiders clawed back in it to trail by just 2 at the break, but then suffered another long scoring drought in the second half when the Bears pulled away. Baylor dominated the glass and was zoned in from 3-point range, sinking 15-of-24 (62.5%).
‘Horns 3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS This Season on Neutral Courts
Shaka Smart’s squad has been on the road since the end of February, closing with four successive games away from home. The first of those was the loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock, but the Longhorns shook that off nicely with follow-up wins at Iowa State, Oklahoma and TCU. Sharpshooting was the key to the three covers, the team combining to hit better than 51% (82-160) in the winning efforts
Texas also clamped down defensively in the final four games, holding opponents to under 43% from the field (94-222), and forcing 53 turnovers in the three wins. Another big improvement was at the free throw line where the Longhorns struggled until the final week. They went into the final three games hitting less than 70%, but converted 34-of-41 (83%) in beating the Cyclones, Sooners and Horned Frogs.
This is the sixth time the Longhorns and Red Raiders have met in the Big 12 Tournament, with Texas winning three of the previous five. Texas Tech won the last collision in the conference tourney, 73-69, having to hold off a late challenge by the Longhorns who grabbed the cover. I like Texas to avoid falling a third time to the Red Raiders this season, and will go with the Longhorns with my NCAAB pick.
Free NCAAB Pick: Texas +1½ (-110) at FanDuel