The Texas Longhorns (21-10, 10-8) and TCU Horned Frogs (19-11, 8-10) are both stumbling into the Big 12 tournament but have reasons for hope.
Texas has defensive mastermind Chris Beard, one of the Big 12's premier coaches. TCU picked up wins against Kansas and Texas Tech prior to dropping their last two. Thursday's winner will likely go on to face Kansas in the semifinals, a team both programs have taken down this year.
Can Texas start trending up or will TCU continue to play Big 12 spoiler?
Read our free college basketball picks and predictions for the TCU vs Texas matchup on Thursday, March 10th.
Texas vs TCU odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
Texas opened as 5-point favorites. The total opened at 127 and shifted down to 125.5.
Texas vs TCU predictions
Predictions made on 3/9/2022 at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Texas vs TCU game info
• Location: T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO
• Date: Thursday, March 10, 2022
• Tip-off: 12:30 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN2
Texas at TCU betting preview
Texas: No injuries to report.
TCU: No injuries to report.
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.
Betting trend to know
Texas has seen 10 totals at or below Thursday's mark and has played them 7-3 to the Over. Find more NCAA betting trends for Texas vs. TCU.
Texas vs TCU picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
An unsuspecting observer could take one look at the Longhorns' record and explain away their good-not-great results as just a product of inconsistent play.
However in reality it is the opposite: Texas plays to a very clear ceiling. When using the NCAA NET ratings and quadrant system, the divide is as clear as day. Texas has struggled in tougher games (5-9 record in Quadrant 1 games) and has almost entirely taken care of business against lesser competition (16-1 record in Quadrant 2-4 games). So where does their game on Thursday with TCU land?
Neutral court games against teams ranked 1-50 qualify as Quadrant 1 games and unfortunately for Texas, TCU is currently ranked 46th in the NET ratings. And Texas' disappointing performance in Quadrant 1 games has largely materialized due to their offensive deficiencies when facing elevated competition, as they've managed to score more than 64 points just five times across their 14 Quadrant 1 games. And to that point, Texas has not been a great offensive team as a whole.
They ranked just fifth in the conference (out of 10) in scoring while ranking seventh in field goal percentage. They aren't anything to write home about in transition (190th in effective field goal percentage) nor in half-court sets (188th). Yet surprisingly, advanced metrics see them in a somewhat favorable light, ranking 32nd in the nation in KenPom's offensive efficiency for example.
There's a clear disconnect there, and it's largely due to the strength of the Big 12 this year. Across all of college basketball, Texas boasts the 13th-toughest schedule of defenses in conference games.
But quite frankly, the performance on the court just simply doesn't match the quality of play implied by advanced metrics. They have one player who shoots 70%+ at the rim with Andrew Jones (10.9 PPG). Of players averaging at least one three-point attempt per game, Courtney Ramey (9.3 PPG) is the only one shooting above 33%.
Leading scorer Timmy Allen's (12.2 PPG) preferred shot is the 2-point jumper, which he shoots just 36.3% on. And the Longhorns' number two scorer Marcus Carr (11.0 PPG) boasts a 39.2% FG%, the third-lowest mark of the 10 players averaging 10+ minutes per game.
But as rough as Texas is offensively, TCU is worse. Mike Miles leads the team in scoring (15.2 PPG) but shoots 38.2% from the field. Damion Blough (10.6 PPG) and Emanuel Miller (10.5 PPG) are the next two highest scorers, and neither they nor Miles shoot 30%+ from three.
Their best perimeter threat is Francisco Farabello (38.5% 3P%), who has more goose egg games (five) than double-digit efforts (two). Eddie Lampkin is their most reliable interior option with 68% of his shots coming at the rim while shooting 69% there, but he has only averaged 4.4 field goal attempts per game.
Prediction: Texas -5 (-110)
It would be a fool's errand to discount each team's offenses so much and to suggest anything but the Under for this game, but the total is at an incredibly low mark of 125.5.
Granted these teams managed to only put up 123 points in their first matchup, but that required a 50-point effort from TCU - their lowest mark of the season.
And while Texas did rack up Unders in non-conference games to start the year (9-3), the tune changed once Big 12 play began (11-8 to the Over since).
They have seen totals at or below Thursday's number 10 times this season and have gone Over in seven of those contests. TCU has seen them just twice, playing to the Over both times as well.
And Beard's "No Middle" defense asks its players to fight for space often, frequently requiring its players to get physical to win space. As a result, it's no surprise that Texas commits the most fouls in the Big 12 (19.4 per game), which gives this total the potential to be padded by early entries into the bonus.
Prediction: Over 125.5 (-110)
Many outsiders may look at what Texas has accomplished and chalk up Chris Beard's first year at Texas as a disappointment.
However, he deserves much more credit than that. To hold over the team until he had proper time to recruit within a long-term vision, Beard relied on seniors (many of them transfers) to fill out the roster and compete in arguably the toughest conference in the nation.
Banding together a bunch of infused talent as a first-year head coach and putting together a defensive effort that ranks near the top 10 (according to KenPom) is incredibly admirable.
And to that point, Beard's installation of his "No Middle" defense has been a success. It may have expectedly fallen apart against top-end offenses but it has suffocated lesser opponents.
Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, they are the exact type of offense that is prone to fall victim to it. They led the Big 12 in turnovers per game, and they ranked second-worst in three-point volume and efficiency - the most reliable counter to the No Middle defense.
Although Texas' ceiling is easily identifiable, there is still some room left before they reach it.
Pick: Teaxs -5 (-110)
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