While TCU is 2-1 since the return of Mike Miles Jr, it’s been a less than ideal performance as they scraped by Texas Tech in a one-point win in their most recent outing. It’s to no fault Of Miles Jr as a small regression was imminent as he integrated back into the lineup. The offense has taken an immediate boost since his return, yet the defense has slightly dipped in efficiency. They now get one of the best teams in the nation in the Longhorns, needing to play elite on both ends to contend. Can they get the win at home?
Texas Vs. TCU Odds
Oddsmakers think so as they opened the Horned Frogs as a -2.5 favorite. Bettors are in disagreement, backing Texas down to -1.5 in some shops with indicators pointing towards it continuing to drop. The opening number was an eyebrow raiser as you would think recency bias would have this script flipped. Projections also have this around -4 on a neutral court, giving value towards the Longhorns after factoring home court advantage. Texas runs as one of the more complete units in the nation, ranking well above average on both sides of the court.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a quick pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 150. Bettors were quick to hammer the under before it became widely available, reopening at 149 as of writing in some shops. This movement comes as no surprise as both units’ field daunting defenses with scoring lulls imminent. The Horned Frogs play a more vital role towards the outcome of this total as they look to round back into form with a few games under Mike Miles Jr belt since his return.
Texas Vs. TCU Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Texas +2.5
With projections having the spread a tad higher than the listed number, I will side with the steam and take the Longhorns at no lower than a pick’em. It pains me to back the Longhorns as the TCU Horned Frogs are my preseason darling. Still, I will always side with the value as money comes first. It also helps that Texas is far more consistent as they get the opportunity to take advantage of a TCU team that is still scrambling to figure out their identity. As previously mentioned, TCU’s defense has reeled as of late, dropping out of historic national champion metrics per Kenpom.
This bodes well for a Texas unit who can be prone to anemic possessions at times as they are inconsistent from the perimeter. With TCU’s interior presence struggling, this gives Texas the opportunity to abuse the paint and get high quality looks for good scoring opportunities. This is where Texas thrives, using their size from their big men and finishing abilities of Marcus Carr to get the best looks possible. It also plays in their favor that TCU big man Eddie Lampkin Jr has been in and out of the lineup dealing with injuries. It’s clear he’s still not 100% yet.
Speaking of Marcus Carr, he will once again be the key player for the Longhorns offense as he duels with Mike Miles Jr. Carr has been one of the few scoring consistencies for Texas, averaging 16.8 points per game. He’s an efficient shooter and gives them a perimeter threat, averaging 38.2% from deep and 45% from the court as a whole. Speaking of the perimeter, the Longhorns may be given ample opportunities to get high quality looks from deep as their interior will command defensive attention. While they struggle as a whole, we may see an uptick in success with more open looks.
Texas Vs. TCU Key Matchups
Can the Longhorns defense lock up Mike Miles Jr?
Mike Miles Jr vs Texas defense
While I assume Marcus Carr will draw the assignment to cover Mike Miles Jr, it will take the collective effort of the Longhorns defense to keep Miles Jr in check. TCU’s offense lives and dies through his scoring production as that was made apparent in his absence due to injury.
To combat against this, we may see Texas clog the interior to give limited looks on Miles Jr’s drives. When he is able to get it going with his slashing ability, this opens up the court for their secondary scoring.
By keeping him predominantly up top, this forces someone else to beat them and that is a feat I’m not so sure TCU can pull off. Especially with their tendency to cough the ball up, giving the Longhorns guards chances to put up points in a hurry with fast break opportunities.
Follow the steam and take Texas at no lower than a pick’em in what will be a thrilling Big 12 battle.