Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Texas Southern 2023 March Madness First Four Picks & Prediction: Tigers Have Been Here Before

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Davon Barnes #2 of Texas Southern attempts a layup in front of Dylan Cardwell #44 of Auburn on November 18, 2022. Michael Chang/Getty Images/AFP

Top NCAAB Pick for Today

NCAAB Pick: Texas Southern -2 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Picks Summary:

  • Texas Southern -2 (-108)
  • Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Texas Southern – Over 145.5 (-110)

An NCAA Tournament spot opposite No. 1 seed Purdue awaits the winner of Wednesday’s First Four matchup from Dayton between No. 16 seeds Fairleigh Dickinson and Texas Southern.

Which side of the 2-point spread at the top-rated online books is the smart lean for your NCAAB pick? We also have a total play. 

Remember, fans from the Lone Star State who want to wager on this game should check out our top-rated Texas betting sites.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights vs. Texas Southern Tigers 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 – 06:40 PM EDT at UD Arena

The first of two First Four games on Wednesday night from Dayton features one team that backed into a Big Dance spot in Fairleigh Dickinson of the Northeast Conference against Texas Southern from the SWAC, which legitimately earned its bid. These programs have never faced off.  

The winner of this East Region matchup should get destroyed on Friday in Columbus, Ohio, by No. 1 seed and Big Ten champion Purdue, which features National Player of the Year lock Zach Edey.

If for some reason you want to bet on one of these schools to win the NCAA Tournament, each is listed at (+30000) at the current NCAAB odds at the top-rated sportsbooks.  

FDU Won By Losing 

Fairleigh Dickinson (19-15) finished second in the Northeast Conference regular-season standings and lost to champion Merrimack 67-66 in the tournament title game back on March 7. That game featured 11 ties and 14 lead changes and saw Merrimack finish the game on an 8-0 run.  

So why aren’t the Warriors in the NCAA Tournament? Because they are still transitioning from Division II to Division I and thus ineligible. So, really, the NEC Tournament semifinal game between FDU and St. Francis (PA) was the de facto NEC title game once Merrimack advanced to it on the other side of the bracket. FDU did beat Merrimack twice during the regular season. 

It’s the seventh all-time trip to the NCAA Tournament for FDU. Its lone victory was in the 2019 First Four when it beat Prairie View A&M 84-76 and then got pole-axed by Gonzaga in the first round.  

Improved Play Leads to Tournament Bid

Tobin Anderson is in his first season as head coach at Fairleigh Dickinson, which was 4-22 last year, so Anderson has worked wonders. He was formerly the head coach at Division II St. Thomas Aquinas.  

His best player is guard Demetre Roberts, who was first-team All-NEC. He averages 16.7 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. He has scored more than 2,000 career points. Fellow guard Grant Singleton was named second-team All-NEC and averages 14.3 ppg, 3.6 RPG, and 3.3 apg, and Ansley Almonor (13.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) was named third team. Both Roberts and Singleton came with Anderson from St. Thomas Aquinas

“In some ways, it really was perfect for us,” Anderson said of that unusual scenario vs. Merrimack. “We played well enough to win and led most of the game. But it’s also given us a sense that there’s some unfinished business for our guys. We want to make that right in the NCAA.” 

FDU leads the NEC in scoring at 77.8 ppg and is a good free-throw shooting team at 74.6%, but it can be lacking defensively at times as NEC opponents shot 54% on two-pointers against the Knights and 39% from deep. 

  • The Knights are 7-16 ATS in their last 23 games following an ATS win. 
  • The Knights are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 neutral site games. 
  • The Knights are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 Wednesday games. 

TSU Used To This Spot 

Good luck finding a school that played a tougher non-conference schedule than Texas Southern (14-20), which faced the likes of San Francisco, Texas Tech, Oral Roberts, Houston, Auburn, Kansas, and Wichita State.

The Tigers lost all those but did upset Arizona State on Nov. 13. They faced teams from nine different conferences.  

TSU then went just 7-11 in SWAC play but swept through the conference tournament, capped by a 61-58 upset of Grambling to earn the league’s automatic NCAA bid. It’s the 11th all-time trip to the Big Dance for Texas Southern and the third straight visit to the Final Four under coach Johnny Jones, who is best known as a one-time LSU coach. 

Recent Tiger’s History in the Big Dance

In 2022, Texas Southern beat Texas A&M Corpus-Christi in this round and then lost 83-56 to No. 1 Kansas. Two years ago, Texas Southern beat No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s in the First Four and then lost to No. 1 Michigan 82-65. 

Sophomore Davon Barnes leads the team in averaging 13.6 ppg, but it’s a veteran group with senior guard P.J. Henry averaging 12.7 points, graduate student John Walker III at 12.6 ppg., and graduate student Joirdon Karl Nicholas averaging 10.7 points and 8.0 rebounds. He was named second-team All-SWAC and led the conference with nine double-doubles.  

Texas Southern was third in the SWAC in scoring at 69.4 ppg and eighth defensively at 71.6 ppg allowed. Jones’ teams are 56-34 all-time in the month of March and 26-8 at TSU. Obviously, they know what comes with this First Four territory and that’s a sizable advantage.

  • The Tigers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games. 
  • The Tigers are 15-4-2 ATS in their last 21 neutral-site games. 

NCAAB Pick: Over 145.5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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