NCAA Basketball tournament, first round Wake Forest Demon Deacons (19-10, 15-11 ATS) vs. Texas Longhorns (24-9, 10-19 ATS), New Orleans Arena, Thursday, March 18th, 9:45 PM Eastern, CBS
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Longhorns -5/Deacons +5
A pair of major conference at-large bids who struggled down the stretch meet for an 8/9 first-round NCAA tournament game when the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Texas Longhorns rumble Thursday night in New Orleans.
Most online sportsbooks opened this game with Texas favored by four or 4 points, with an over/under of 147. As of Wednesday morning the Longhorns have been bet up to -5 at most outlets, while the total has dropped a point, to 146.
The ‘Horns are also giving right around -210 on various moneylines, with Wake getting around +175 to win the game outright.
The Longhorns are also figured as a 5 1/2-point favorite over the Deacons on Sagarin’s PREDICTOR line at USAToday.com.
Texas started 17-0 this season, and in mid-January reached No. 1 in the rankings. Since then, the ‘Horns are 7-9, and ended up finishing sixth in the Big 12 standings. Then then got beat by 19 points by Baylor in the second round of the Big 12 Conference tournament.
Along the way Texas lost two point guards for the season to injuries.
A little more than a month ago Wake sat at 18-5 overall and 8-3 in ACC play. But the Demon Deacons then lost four games in a row and finished 9-7 in the ACC. And in their last outing WF got beat by 21 points by the lowest-seeded team in the ACC tournament, Miami.
Texas, which is starting three seniors, a junior and a freshman, is shooting 47% from the field this season, 35% from beyond the arc but a miserable 63% from the line. Defensively, the Longhorns are holding opponents to 40% FG shooting.
Wake, which is starting two seniors, two sophs and a frosh, is shooting 44% from the floor this season, just 31% from long range and a lousy 66% from the FT line. At the other end of the court, though, the Deacons are limiting foes to just 38% FG shooting.
On the boards, Texas ranks 10th in D1 ball at +6.8 per game, while Wake ranks 42nd at +4.5.
But while the Longhorns rank 97th in the country with a 14.5/13.9 per-game A/TO ratio, the Deacs rank 281st (that’s out of 334 teams, folks) with an 11.8/15.2 ratio.
Texas is playing in the Big Dance for the 12th straight season. Last year the ‘Horns, as a seven-seed, lost to Duke, a two seed, in the second round.
Wake Forest missed the NCAA tournament three straight years from 2005-08, before returning last year, only to get upset as a four seed in the first round by 13th-seeded Cleveland State.
Texas and Wake haven’t met on the basketball court since 2004.
This season these two teams played one common opponent; defending national champion North Carolina. Back in December Texas beat the Tar Heels 103-90 on a neutral court at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Wake, meanwhile, split two ACC games with Carolina, winning 82-69 in January and losing 77-68 three weeks ago.
Since the NCAA went to the 64-team format for the tournament back in 1985, eight seeds are just 46-54 straight up in first-round games vs. the nine seeds. And since 1990 the eights are 33-38-1 ATS in those match-ups.
Wake is 10-15 on the betting totals this season, as Deacons games have averaged 141 points. Texas, meanwhile, is 17-11 on the totals, as ‘Horns games have averaged 151 points.
Sagarin ranks the Big 12 as the best conference in college basketball so far this season, with the ACC second out of 32 Division 1 leagues.
Z-Man’s Pick: This looks to be a very tight game. With that being said I feel that Wake Forest has a very good chance of covering the spread here. Good luck!