A trip to the Sweet 16 is on the line when the two-seeded Texas Longhorns (27-8) take on the Penn State Nittany Lions (23-13) in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. The winner will move on to next week’s matchup versus Xavier or Pittsburgh in Kansas City, Mo.
Saturday’s tipoff is at 7:45 p.m. EST inside the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. The Longhorns are a 5.5-point favorite, and the over/under total is 139 points.
What to Know – #2 Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns took care of business in the opening round, disposing of the 15th-seed Colgate Raiders, 81-61 on Thursday. Texas, whose head coach, Chris Beard, was dismissed early in the season, is looking to return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008 and the 10th time in program history.
Offensively, Texas led the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 77.9 points per game thanks to 47.0% shooting from the field and 34.6% from beyond the arc. The Longhorns defense was third in the conference, surrendering 67.2 ppg, 42.1% shooting from the floor, and 32.4% from deep.
In the opening victory over Colgate, Sir’Jabari Rice came off the bench to pace the Longhorns in scoring with 23 points. The senior knocked down a season-high seven 3-point field goal attempts and finished 8-of-14 shooting.
Texas is 18-17 against the spread this year and 4-3 ATS in neutral contests. The Longhorns sport a sparkling 6-0 record ATS over their previous six matchups.
What to Know – #10 Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State parlayed a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament to build an early advantage and never look back in a 76-59 triumph over the 7-seed Texas A&M Aggies. The Nittany Lions are a win away from advancing to the school’s fifth Sweet 16 appearance and first since 2001.
Amongst teams in the Big Ten, PSU’s offense ranked seventh, averaging 72.4 ppg thanks to 46.5% shooting from the floor and 39% from three. Defensively, the Nittany Lions were eighth in the conference, allowing opponents to score 68.1 ppg, shoot 42.7% from the field, and 33.1% from the 3-point line.
Senior shooter Andrew Funk scored 27 points in the victory over the Aggies. Funk was 8-of-10 from three, while the Lions shot 59.1% (13-of-22) from beyond the arc as a team.
The Nittany Lions own a 22-13-1 record ATS with an 8-1 mark ATS in nine games played on a neutral floor. PSU has covered the spread in 12 of its last 13 contests in March.
The Pick is In
If Penn State shoots the ball as they did on Thursday, then credit to them. We find it hard to see the Nittany Lions matching that offensive effort against this Longhorns team, and Texas has the offense to play with PSU if it does. Texas flexes its muscle late and puts this one away to advance.
The Pick: #2 Texas Longhorns -5.5