Texas vs Penn State March Madness Betting Preview

10th Seed Nittany Lions Bidding for Second Straight Upset

The NCAA Tournament continues Saturday with No. 2 seed Texas vs No. 10 seed Penn State in second-round action from Des Moines, Iowa. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. on CBS. The winner will advance to the Midwest Regional semifinals.

Texas is currently a 5.5-point favorite and -240 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 140.
(Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)

Texas Longhorns: Longhorns Closing Gap on Houston, The Field

Second-seeded Texas looked the part in its NCAA Tournament opener, hammering No. 15 Colgate 81-61. The Longhorns — 13.5-point favorites and -1020 on the moneyline — opened a 41-32 halftime lead, then extended their lead over the final 20 minutes to comfortably cover the spread. The Longhorns have now won four straight games this postseason, including the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

Four players scored in double figures, led by New Mexico State transfer Sir’Jabari Rice’s 23 points and six rebounds. Marcus Carr and Dylan Disu scored 17 apiece, while Disu also pulled down 10 rebounds.

After scoring its highest seed since 2007-08, the Big 12 Tournament champions remain the biggest threat to No. 1 seed Houston — that is, of course, assuming the Cougars can get past Auburn with All-American Marcus Sasser’s status in question. At +250, the Longhorns have the second-best odds to win the region behind the Cougars (+120), and also remain who is favored to win March Madness. If you’re interested in college basketball betting picks, note that Texas’ national title odds dropped from +1400 to +1000 following its first-round win.

The Longhorns displayed their balance on offense against Colgate, shooting 13-of-23 from 3-point range and 53.4% overall. Rice (7-10) and Carr (4-6) accounted for most of that damage from long range.

Penn State Nittany Lions: Red-Hot Shooting Spurs Nittany Lions to Upset

The 10th-seeded Nittany Lions scored a first-round upset as three-point underdogs, thumping No. 7 seed Texas A&M 76-59 behind a lights-out shooting performance from Andrew Funk. The Bucknell transfer shot 8-of-10 from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 27 points. Star guard Jalen Pickett chipped in 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and Seth Lundy scored 10 points. The Nittany Lions finished with 13 3-pointers, three above their season average.

They’re one of the hottest teams in the field at the moment, having won six of their last seven games, and advanced in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 years. Their previous tournament win was a second-round upset of North Carolina in 2001. The Nittany Lions ultimately lost to Temple in the Sweet 16, and they fell to the Owls again when they returned to the Big Dance in 2011. This was their first tournament appearance since then.

Penn State was coming off an impressive showing in the Big Ten Conference Tournament, in which it upset Illinois, Northwestern, and Indiana before falling 67-65 to Purdue in the title game.

Handicapping The Game

Texas vs Penn State is shaping up to be one of the most entertaining matchups of the second round. The Longhorns will undoubtedly have their hands full guarding the Nittany Lions, who have scored 65 points or more in seven straight games and can stroke it from deep. While much of the focus will be on slowing down Pickett, an Associated Press Second Team All-American, the Longhorns will need to be careful about drawing defenders away from Funk. The senior is shooting better than 41% from 3 and can wreck a game in a hurry. Just ask Texas A&M.

Experience should also be a plus for the Nittany Lions. All five starters are seniors, which can’t be overlooked this time of year.

To pull off a second straight upset, Penn State must not be flustered by Carr and the Longhorns’ ball-pressure defense. The Longhorns stuck to their MO against Colgate, scoring 17 points off 11 turnovers. They also held a 14-4 edge in second-chance points. It may be a long 40 minutes for Pickett, Funk and Co. if they’re careless and start allowing too many high-percentage shots.

Penn State (21-13-2) has been solid against the spread this year, and while Texas may be deeper and better all-around, the Nittany Lions should be able to keep it close assuming they don’t run into a cold-shooting night. Expect Texas vs Penn State to be tight — for a while, at least.
(Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)

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