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Friday, March 22 1:30 P.M. in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Day two of the NCAA Tournament will feature some high-powered match ups in Tulsa. The No. 9 Texas Tech Red Raiders will enter the tournament as a three-seed after their early exit in the Big 12 Tournament. The Red Raiders were upset in the quarterfinals 79-74 by West Virginia. Texas Tech drew one of the more difficult 14-seeds in Northern Kentucky. The Norse gained an automatic bid after winning the Horizon League Championship 77-66 over Wright State. This game will be the first of four taking place in Tulsa on Friday.
Texas Tech Hopes for Better Result in NCAA Tournament
Texas Tech had a strong regular season. They finished tied with Kansas State for the regular season Big 12 title. They entered the conference tournament as the one-seed but did not have much luck. They lost their first game to West Virginia who finished at the bottom of the conference. Texas Tech is a team that has been winning with defense. Their previous two games have not gone with that narrative. They allowed 73 points to Iowa State in their season finale, and 79 points to West Virginia in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. The Red Raiders will enter the tournament as one of the biggest question marks. They will not take this game lightly. “We respect their program and they are really well-coached,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “They have an identity where they are explosive and balanced offensively and they will be one of the toughest defenses we’ve played this year. They are very talented with their conference MVP and several other guys who are all-conference players. They’ve got experience and young talent.”
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) March 18, 2019
Defense has been the key. Texas Tech allowed 59.3 points throughout the season which was fourth in the nation. Teams shot just 30.2% from the free throw line, and 41.2% from inside the arc. Jarrett Culver led Texas Tech in scoring. The future NBA lottery pick scored 18.5 points per game this season. What could be confusing about this team heading into the tournament? The Red Raiders are beatable. This is one of those teams where you look at your bracket, and think they can either make a Final Four run, or lose in the first two rounds. It all depends which team shows up. They are well coached with Chris Beard at the helm, but sometimes he does not have his team ready to perform. This will be an interesting game for the at-home bracketologists.
Northern Kentucky Earns Automatic Bid
There was a battle at the top of the Horizon League all season long. Northern Kentucky ended up with a tie for the regular season title with Wright State. After beating Oakland by one point in the semifinals, it was only right that Wright State and Northern Kentucky met for the tournament championship. The Norse came out with an 11-point win and an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Northern Kentucky is in just their third season as a Division I program and will be playing in their second National Tournament in three seasons. Given their placement in the bracket, they have to be as comfortable as any 14-seed in this tournament.
The field is set as we are on our way to Tulsa to face Texas Tech for round one of the 2019 NCAA Tournament! Here's a look at Selection Sunday with the Norse! #NorseUp #TakeNotice pic.twitter.com/x4ZMMPzh8U
— NKU Basketball (@NKUNorseMBB) March 18, 2019
The Norse can put the ball in the basket. They scored 79.1 points per game this season which was 40th in the nation. They led the Horizon League in scoring. As a team, the Norse shot 48.1% from the field which was 24th nationally. Three Norse averaged over 14 points per game. Drew McDonald led the team with 19.1 points per game. Tyler Sharpe and Jalen Tate both averaged 14 points per contest on the nose. Four of their top six players are upperclassmen. These are the most dangerous teams come tournament time. Texas Tech might be too much for the Norse to handle, but they are a confident basketball team that believes they can play with anyone. Given their offensive ability, the Norse have a chance to score against the dominant Texas Tech defense.
- Red Raiders are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 NCAA Tournament games
- Red Raiders are 3-14-1 ATS in their last 18 games following a straight up loss
- Red Raiders are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games
- Red Raiders are 17-35-1 ATS in their last 53 neutral site games
- Red Raiders are 6-14-2 ATS in their last 22 games following an ATS loss
- Norse are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games.
- Over is 3-1-1 in Norse last 5 Friday games
- Over is 5-1 in Norse last 6 games following a straight up win
- Over is 4-1 in Norse last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Number nine in the country, top of the Big 12, that all goes out the window come tournament time. Both teams won 26 games heading into the tournament, and were 17-1 at home. Northern Kentucky did not lose a game played on a neutral court. They ended their schedule on a five-game win streak heading into the NCAA Tournament. Texas Tech can win this game. They are expected to, and will certainly enter as the heavy favorite. With that being said, Northern Kentucky can keep this game within single-digits. This is an ATS pick, not straight up. The Norse have the offensive ability to keep this game close throughout. Texas Tech should be able to move onto the next round, but it will not come easy.
Prediction: Northern Kentucky +14
Full-Game Total Pick
It is no surprise that Texas Tech has played more unders than overs this season given their defensive production. It is not as many as you may think. The Red Raiders finished with 14 games over, and 17 under. Northern Kentucky was 15-16-1 in favor of the unders. The Norse were a high scoring team so their numbers were typically inflated. This is not the case, and the Norse love it. Texas Tech has been playing high scoring games recently. Six of their last seven games heading into the tournament have been overs. The Texas Tech defense has been the story all season, but they will have to win this game on offense with the way that Northern Kentucky can shoot the ball from all over the floor. Tulsa will have a slate of four games, but they might have to change the nets after game one.
Prediction: Over 137.5