Last season the TCU Horned Frogs, coached by Jamie Dixon, the former head man at Pitt, got off to a 12-1 record before the teeth of the Big 12 schedule, then went only 7-11 in conference play. They were able to get some scalps along the way, including two wins apiece over Iowa State and Texas. They also beat Florida in one of those “bracket buster” games.
They were able to advance to the semi-finals of the NIT, where they got clipped by Texas in a game where they shot 17 of 60 from the field.
That was a big revenge game for the Longhorns, and here we encounter another situation where an opponent is seeking payback. Almost one year ago to the day, Dixon’s team administered a 96-61 whipping of the USC Trojans in which they outshot Southern Cal 50%-32%.
That game was at the Staples Center. This time it’s a rather special occasion in Fort Worth, as these teams christen the brand-new Dickies Arena, which will host basketball for the first time. Game time is 9 PM ET, and while BetAnySports customers are watching it on ESPN2, they can engage in real-time wagering with the software from Sports Betting Ultra.
In the college basketball betting odds that are posted on this game
TCU Horned Frogs -4.5 (-105)
USC Trojans +4.5 (-105)
Over 136.5 points (-105)
Under 136.5 points (-105)
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TCU is off to a 6-1 start, and it should be no surprise that it is on the strength of its defense. They do a lot of things at this level that you have to do in order to flip the script on games, including forcing turnovers. As we stand, their opponents have coughed it up on 26% of all possessions, and only nine other teams among the 353 in Division I basketball have been more effective in doing that.
What the Horned Frogs have done is make it rather difficult to shoot inside the arc, as opponents are just 40% accurate from two-point range. But the Achilles heel has been the inability to get out to the perimeter and contest three-pointers wit a high degree of success. They are allowing 38.5% from beyond the arc, and that’s a big difference between this year’s team and last year’s, which surrendered only 30% in long-range shooting.
So perhaps the key to their being uber-competitive in the Big 12 is to funnel more stuff from the outside to the inside. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Last time out, the Frogs struggled with Illinois State for a while, before pulling away for an 81-69 win. Desmond Bane had 23 points and nine rebounds for TCU, and he, along with shot-blocker Kevin Samuel, are the veteran leaders, because there were significant losses, including four double-digit scorers, from last year’s squad. That’s not to say there aren’t other vets, though; both Edric Dennis (UT-Arlington) and Jaire Drayer (George Mason) came in as graduate transfers.
But it’s USC (7-2, with losses to Temple and Marquette) that brought in the star freshmen. Isaiah Mobley, a 6-10 forward/center, has been solid, averaging 9.1 points and 6.7 rebounds. Onyeka Okongwu, a 6-9 power forward who was California’s Mr. Basketball last year, has had more impact, chalking up 17.9 points, nine rebounds, 2.9 blocks a game, and shooting 62%. He had 27 points and 14 boards last time out against Harvard. Throw in 6-10 Nick Rakocevic and yes, we think USC can do some business on the inside, on both ends of the floor, although we do wonder whether they are sharp enough from the outside to exploit TCU’s defensive weakness.
And while three-pointers count for only 24.4% of the Trojans’ points, it constitutes 42.2% of the Frogs’ “take.”
Matchup-wise, TCU may actually have a slight advantage, since they look a little more well-rounded. But they are a real liability at the line (60%), and the Men of Troy may grab an edge there. And it might be time for Andy Enfield to put Quinton Adlesh to work. The Columbia transfer has hit 40% if his career triples, and can be a valuable guy off the bench. The same may go for Daniel Utomi, another transfer who was a two-year starter at Akron and is a 38% career shooter from the arc.
Samuel is going to have to perform double-duty to deal with USC’s size. I kind of like the way this shapes up for the Trojans. So we’ll take the points.
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