Top NCAAB Pick for Today
NCAAB Pick: Two-Legged Parlay (+176) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)
- Texas ML (-225)
- Penn State vs. Texas – Under 140 (-110)
Top sportsbooks have released their NCAAB odds for Saturday’s second-round NCAA Tournament action. One game, in particular, interests me as worth investing in: Penn State vs. Texas.
For reasons that I will explain, you should play both the moneyline and the total for this game. Feel free to parlay both bets at an online sports betting site in order to maximize your profit.
Remember, fans from the Lone Star State who want to wager on this game should check out our top-rated Texas betting sites.
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Texas Longhorns
Saturday, March 18, 2023 – 07:45 PM EDT at Wells Fargo Arena
Texas’ defense features a disruptive pest in guard, Tyrese Hunter. The Longhorns utilize Hunter to lock down the opponent’s top perimeter threat.
They thrived against West Virginia, for example, because Hunter remained glued to Mountaineer guard Erik Stevenson. Hunter followed Stevenson throughout the court, never letting him get comfortable. Despite his height advantage over Hunter, Stevenson scored a combined total of 10 points in two games against the Longhorns.
Likewise, Hunter was instrumental in Texas’ rematch with Kansas State to locking down key Wildcat point guard Markquis Nowell, who mustered 10 points and six turnovers against Texas’ visiting defense.
With Hunter, the Longhorns’ defense will be particularly effective against offenses that rely extensively on a single player — Stevenson is by far West Virginia’s top shot-taker and Nowell is K-State’s highest-volume shooter. On Saturday, Texas will utilize Hunter to bother Andrew Funk, Penn State’s highest-volume and most efficient three-point shooter.
Considering Texas’ Games Against Baylor
But, as any defense would do on occasion, the Longhorns’ perimeter defense has suffered mixed results against teams that, as Penn State does, do a good job of featuring multiple efficient options behind the arc.
For example, whereas the Longhorns limited Baylor to 30.8-percent three-point shooting in Texas, they allowed Baylor to convert nine of its 19 three-point attempts in the rematch at Baylor.
What do we make of the fact that, like any defense, Texas has allowed opponents to thrive behind the arc? The key is to watch these games and consider how opponents are making their shots.
What Makes a Defense?
A defense is not strictly responsible for what happens when the ball is in the air — so we can’t justifiably be worried just by instances in which opponents converted a high percentage of their three-pointers against Texas. Buoyed by their home crowd, Baylor players thrived from deep at home because they made tough, contested shots.
They also had some success by freeing up their players with screens set for the ball-handler or with off-ball screening actions. None of this should worry us against Penn State, though.
We should wager on players not making consistently tough shots, because these are low-probability shots, and we could never trust any defense if we worried about an offense often making these types of shots.
The likeliest outcome on Saturday is that Penn State’s offense does not thrive from deep, because Texas boasts a stout perimeter defense that ranks 108th nationally at limiting its opponent’s rate of three-point attempts.
Deeper Dive into Penn State’s Offense
Penn State’s offense must be concerning for Nittany Lion backers because it lives or dies with the three. The Nittany Lions attempt the nation’s tenth-highest rate of three-pointers. This reliance fosters variance in their game-by-game results.
For example, they converted over half of their three-point attempts on February 23 in a 75-71 win over Ohio State, but, in the next game, they shot 27.6 percent from deep in a loss to a vulnerable Rutgers team that was missing its top perimeter defender.
When shots aren’t falling for Penn State — as they were to a crazy extent in their opening-round obliteration of Texas A&M — then their entire offense is in trouble.
But one might say that many of Penn State’s threes were open ones made in rhythm. If they can accrue open three-point attempts, then we should expect them to convert a lot of them. But in addition to Hunter taking away the Nittany Lions’ top three-point shooter, Texas will be ready for Penn State’s tactics.
The Nittany Lions like to use guard Jalen Pickett to back down his defender before he kicks the ball out to an opposing shooter. They also like to use dribble penetration to force defenders to help off their man, so that they can kick the ball out to an open shooter after driving inside.
Trust in Texas’ Perimeter Defense
The Longhorns created low-percentage shooting opportunities for Baylor by containing the sort of dribble drive that Baylor tried to use in the way that Penn State used, for example, against Indiana back in January to create drive-and-kick opportunities.
For example, with just over 4:30 left in the first half of its home game against Texas, a Baylor ball-handler used a screen to attack inside but met a wall of Longhorns’ defenders. He feebly kicked the ball back out to a teammate behind the arc whose somewhat deeper three-point shot attempt a Longhorn defender was able to contest.
As for Penn State’s post-up tactics, opponents disrupt these by being physical. For example, Pickett tried to post up and back down Northwestern guard Boo Buie, but Buie was physical with Pickett and remained strong and firm so that he kept Buie off-balance and did not require any help from his teammates who could therefore stay glued onto Nittany Lion shooters.
For the Longhorns, point guard Marcus Carr is known for being physical. Physically, he is visibly comfortable absorbing the sort of contact that his Nittany Lion counterpart will try to use to impose himself on him in the paint.
Marcus Carr’s Offensive Outlook
Carr is also central to what Texas likes to do offensively. The Longhorns’ shot-taker might operate off the ball, but with the ball in his hands he likes to probe the opposing interior defense.
He’ll try to blow by his defender in order to force the help defense to rotate. His probing inside will lead either to his attempting to score, or he might find another teammate, such as a cutter who takes advantage of the attention that his dribble drive absorbs.
Penn State’s Defense Against Point Guards
But the Nittany Lions boast multiple guards who can contain the dribble penetration of more challenging point guards.
They often kept Buie from blowing by and held the even quicker Aggie point guard Wade Taylor IV to his worst offensive performance of the season.
So, they will not need to over-help against Carr, and this will allow them to remain vigilant towards Longhorn cutters and other actions with which Carr’s teammates will try to situate themselves in favorable scoring opportunities.
Texas’ Scoring Edge
Even without relying on what Carr likes to create via his dribble penetration, Texas will still have a decisive edge in the interior. The Longhorns might not be able to rely on Timmy Allen to the extent that they would want to.
Coming off a leg injury that caused him to miss three games, Allen scored all of four points in his team’s opening-round game against Colgate. Despite his ability to bully opponents inside, Allen anyhow often only manages to score in single digits. He could still reach 10 points against a Nittany Lions’ defense that is vulnerable to bullies.
Indiana, for example, achieved a higher scoring output in its Big Ten Tournament game against Penn State by utilizing its center’s bully-ball tactics. These tactics absorbed the attention of multiple Penn State defenders, such that the Hoosiers’ center could find a teammate for a favorable scoring opportunity.
Can Longhorns Thrive on the Inside?
While Allen can do some of this, agile and athletic center Dylan Disu can also have an efficient performance for Texas. Mobile centers are normally effective against the Nittany Lions’ interior defense.
In the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois game-planned feeding Dain Dainja inside from the beginning. He missed some bunnies but still scored 13 points, which was almost as many as fellow frontcourt player Coleman Hawkins used his mobility to achieve in what was one of his top-scoring performances of the season. So, Texas’ offense will outperform Penn State’s by relying more extensively on a couple of its inside scorers.
The Longhorns’ perimeter defense will lock down a Penn State offense that will fall back to Earth especially because its post-up and drive-and-kick tactics will be ineffective.
The Longhorns’ offense is more versatile but won’t score too many more points given Carr’s negative outlook. Longhorn scorers will have to work hard for their productivity, but they do have the personnel to exploit the Nittany Lions’ lack of shot-blocking inside the arc.
For your best bets, expect a defensive battle in which Texas utilizes its inside scoring to pull away for your top NCAAB pick.
Be sure to use our trusty parlay calculator for your parlay betting needs.
- Texas ML (-225)
- Penn State vs. Texas – Under 140 (-110)
NCAAB Pick: Two-Legged Parlay (+176) at BetOnline
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.