Cleveland State vs Houston NCAA Basketball Preview

CJ Walker #13 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is fouled by D'Moi Hodge #55 of the Cleveland State Vikings. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images/AFP

CJ Walker #13 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is fouled by D’Moi Hodge #55 of the Cleveland State Vikings. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images/AFP

Looking to become just the ninth No. 15 to beat a No. 2, the Cleveland State Vikings tangle with the Houston Cougars in what is expected to be a March Madness contest that is all about defense.

Cleveland State Vikings vs. Houston Cougars

Friday, March 19, 2021 – 7:15 PM EDT at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

Ranked No. 17 in the preseason AP, Houston beat those expectations with a 24-3 campaign and somewhat quietly moving all the way up to No. 6 in the two most recent editions of the polls. The Cougars finished percentage points behind Wichita State in the American Athletic Conference regular season standings, then won 3-straight last weekend to earn their first league tourney title since winning the Conference USA event in 2010. Cleveland State tied Wright State for the Horizon League regular season crown, earning the Vikings a bye into the semifinals of the conference tournament where they claimed the title with successive wins.

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Texas Tech vs. Texas NCAA Basketball Preview

Guard Matt Coleman III #2 of the Texas Longhorns passes the ball. John E. Moore III/Getty Images/AFP

Guard Matt Coleman III #2 of the Texas Longhorns passes the ball. John E. Moore III/Getty Images/AFP

 

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

Michigan State Spartans vs Michigan Wolverines

Gabe Brown #44 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates his three point basket. Rey Del Rio/Getty Images/AFP

Gabe Brown #44 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates his three point basket. Rey Del Rio/Getty Images/AFP

Despite their struggles all season, the Michigan State Spartans have a chance to make a late push into the NCAA Tournament on this week’s college basketball odds calendar with back-to-back games against the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Michigan Wolverines

Thursday, March 04, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Crisler Center

While this year’s schedule has been fraught with challenges and frustrations over postponements and cancellations, it has made for some interesting back-to-back matchups among some rivals here at the end of the regular season. Michigan State has moved at least back into the bubble picture for March Madness, and winning at least one more game would guarantee the Spartans a Day 1 bye at the Big Ten Tournament next week in Indianapolis. A sweep of their rivals this week would almost lock up a No. 1 seed for the Wolverines at the Big Dance, while just one win would secure the top seed in the conference tourney for Michigan.

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Iowa vs. Michigan NCAA Basketball Preview

Hunter Dickinson #1 of the Michigan Wolverines puts up two points over the defense. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images/AFP

Hunter Dickinson #1 of the Michigan Wolverines puts up two points over the defense. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images/AFP

There are eight ranked teams in action on Thursday’s college basketball odds card, but just one game pitting top 25 squads and the matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Michigan Wolverines definitely grabs the top line on the marquee.

 

Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines

at Crisler Center

Michigan comes in ranked No. 3 in the land while Iowa holds down the 9/12 slots in the AP and coaches rankings, respectively. The Wolverines are atop the Big Ten standings, clinging to a 1-game entering play on Thursday. Just two games behind are the Hawkeyes who face one of the toughest schedule draws in the country with consecutive road games against top 5 teams, a trip to Columbus to meet the Ohio State Buckeyes following this one on Saturday.

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Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga NCAA Basketball Preview

Drew Timme #2 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after drawing a foul. William Mancebo/Getty Images/AFP

Drew Timme #2 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts after drawing a foul. William Mancebo/Getty Images/AFP

Barring any late schedule changes, the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs have just two games remaining to complete an unbeaten regular season. The first of those is part of Thursday’s sports betting slate with a rivalry clash against the Saint Mary’s Gaels.

Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

at McCarthey Athletic Center

 

Critics always like to pick apart Mark Few and Gonzaga, and this crazy, virus-ridden season is no exception. Still, it has been a remarkable run for the Bulldogs as they enter tonight on a 20-win run, the closest of those, way back on December 2 in a 5-point, neutral site triumph over a West Virginia team that is projected as a 3-seed. It goes without saying that for Randy Bennett and the Gaels, an upset would be a huge feather in Saint Mary’s cap.

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