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Texas Longhorns to Mess with Abilene Christian Wildcats’ Dreams

Betting Preview of March Madness First-Round In-State Showdown

The third-seeded Texas Longhorns look for their first NCAA Tournament win since 2014 when they take on the 14th-seeded Abilene Christian Wildcats in an East Region first-round game in Indianapolis on Saturday. The Longhorns have lost in the first round in their last two NCAA Tournament appearances.

The Big 12 tournament champions are in the NCAAs for the first time since 2018, which ended in a first-round loss to Nevada. Texas (19-7) has just one win in its last five appearances in the Big Dance, an opening win over Arizona State in 2014.

Matt Coleman III and Kai Jones of Texas Longhorns celebrate after a win. Read what to expect in the Longhorns vs Wildcats betting preview
Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

Abilene Christian is making just its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, having lost to Kentucky in the first round in 2019. The Wildcats (23-4) have won four in a row coming into this one, having won the Southland Conference tournament last weekend.

The winner of this game will face either BYU or the winner of the First Four game between Michigan State and UCLA in the next round. Longhorns vs Wildcats betting odds have Texas as an 9-point favorite according to the college basketball odds at BetUS, with the over/under set at 140½.

Check out the latest March Madness odds to stay up-to-date on college basketball betting.

Texas Backcourt Strength

Shaka Smart’s squad is led by a solid trio of guards that can connect from the perimeter and the free-throw line. In the Big 12 tournament championship game, the Longhorns’ top two scorers on the season, Andrew Jones and Matt Coleman III, were a combined 16-of-16 from the charity stripe.

Coleman, a senior, scored a career-high 30 points in the win over Oklahoma State, helping Texas to its first-ever Big 12 tournament title. On the season, Coleman is averaging 13.3 points and 4.1 assists per game while connecting on 42 3-pointers.

Jones, a junior, leads the Longhorns with 14.6 points per game while hitting a team-best 51 3-pointers. The third double-figure scorer is junior guard Courtney Ramey, who is averaging 12.6 points and 4.0 assists and has hit 47 3-pointers. All three guards shoot better than 82% from the foul line, making them perfect for late-game ball-handling situations.

Not that Texas doesn’t have strength in the frontcourt as well, though, as 6-10 senior forward Jericho Sims is coming off a career-best 21 points and 14 rebounds in the Big 12 title game victory. Sims is averaging 9.2 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds, while freshman forward Greg Brown adds 9.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Abilene Christian Playing Tall

The strength of Abilene Christian starts inside with 7-foot senior center Kolton Kohl. Despite playing just 18.9 minutes per game, Kohl leads the Wildcats with 12.3 points and 1.0 blocks per game, shooting 54.2% from the field. He’s second on the team with 4.8 rebounds per contest.

Junior forward Joe Pleasant is second on the team in scoring (10.8 points) while leading the Wildcats with 5.4 rebounds per game. Coach Joe Golding likes to rotate his players, with nine different Wildcats averaging at least 14 minutes per game.

Reggie Miller — not that one, the new one — runs the show and gets the most court time, averaging 28.8 minutes per game. The senior guard is dishing out 4.4 assists per game to go along with 6.2 points per game. He’s one of six Abilene Christian players with at least 20 3-pointers on the season, as more than a third of the team’s shots come from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats are also strong defensively, holding opponents to just 60.5 points per game. Abilene Christian is forcing 20.2 turnovers per game, which leads the nation.

Fullcourt Affair

Both teams have some firepower in the backcourt as well as the frontcourt, so this one could be an interesting battle. Texas’ solid guard play will be tested by the tight Abilene Christian defense.

Meanwhile, Kohl could find the going difficult in the paint against Sims and company. He needs to be able to be effective and play long minutes to keep the Longhorns’ big men from dominating.

Longhorns vs Wildcats Betting Pick

In the end, Texas just has too much firepower to lose this one. Abilene Christian will put up a solid fight, but when doing your college basketball betting, go with the Longhorns to win and cover in this one.

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