Colgate will look to follow in St. Peter’s footsteps today and make it two years in a row a 15-seed wins in the first round, as they will take on the two-seed Texas Longhorns tonight at 7:25 PM EST. We’ll break down the intriguing matchup before going over why I’m targeting the underdog in this one.
After picking up an impressive 20-point win in the Big-12 Tournament championship game, the Texas Longhorns earned themselves the two seed. In a season filled with distractions, the Longhorns impressively showed that they would not be affected by losing their head coach and now enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country.
The Big-12 Tournament has long been jokingly called the “Bill Self Invitational,” and the Longhorns made a mockery of that notion by holding Kansas to just 56 points in the championship game. That game marked the second time they had beaten Kansas in March and kept them under 60 points. Texas was equally impressive on both sides of the ball this season, but they rank higher on KenPom in defensive efficiency, as they enter today ranked 11th.
Their offense is not far behind that, though, as they rank 18th in offensive efficiency on KenPom, and have the 36th-best shooting percentage in the country. However, the more notable offense in this matchup belongs to Colgate, as the Raiders are 44th in offensive efficiency but possess the second-best shooting percentage and the best three-point shooting percentage in the country.
Colgate can score in bunches, and it’s a good thing they can since their defense ranks 231st in defensive efficiency, and opponents have managed a 51.8% effective field goal percentage against them. The Raiders are an ideal first-round matchup for guys like Marcus Carr and Sir’Jabari Rice, who both had 17 points in the Big-12 title game and will be vital if the Longhorns want to make a run this tournament.
Colgate can currently be found as +13.5 point underdogs in this one, and I’ll be backing them for my play. The Longhorns were favored by ten or more points in ten games this season and went 4-6 ATS in those games. Colgate was rarely an underdog this season, but they have had success recently covering the spread, as they are 7-3 ATS across their last ten games.
No team shot the three-ball better than Colgate, and I think that ability is exactly what can keep them in this game. Opponents found the most offensive success against Texas this season from behind the arc, as the Longhorns are ranked 96th in opponent three-point percentage.
A good shooting team is always dangerous in March to, at the very least, cause panic for a low-seeded team, and the Raiders being first in the country in effective field goal percentage could be the next example of that. The Raiders also protect the ball at a very high level, which can offset and limit any transition opportunities for the Longhorns, who enter the matchup ranked 14th in turnovers forced per game. Overall, even if Colgate can’t be the next Cinderella story, I think they can be profitable for bettors.
Colgate Raiders (+13.5)