College Basketball Odds & Picks for LSU vs. TCU: Points Will Be Hard to Come By
James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Will Wade.
- Will Wade and LSU travel to Fort Worth as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
- The Tigers have lost three of their last four games while the Horned Frogs have dropped two of three.
- Mike McNamara breaks down this non-conference affair and offers up his best bet.
LSU vs. TCU Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The SEC/Big 12 Challenge is always a fun event to watch every year at the end of January as the college basketball season heats up. This year will be no exception, as there is a legitimate argument that these two conferences are the best in the nation. Both should get at least seven teams into the NCAA Tournament, and both have teams good enough to cut down the nets in New Orleans in early April.
The first matchup of this year’s challenge features LSU traveling to face a TCU team that has been a pleasant surprise this season. This is a big game for both teams, but for different reasons.
LSU is looking to build momentum and get back on track after a three-game skid that ended Wednesday night in a narrow home win over Texas A&M. The Tigers have been dealing with some injuries, most notably to Xavier Pinson and Darius Days. Both players’ statuses for Saturday are still unknown at this time.
For TCU, this is a huge opportunity to add a quality non-conference win to its resume. The Horned Frogs did not play the most challenging non-league schedule, so adding a Quad 1 win over LSU would go a long way in putting the Frogs comfortably in the tournament field.
Who has the edge in the early tip in Fort Worth? Let’s get into it.
LSU’s defense continues to be the key to its success, particularly with Pinson and Days missing time. Per KenPom, the Tigers currently sit No. 1 in the entire country in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Opposing teams are shooting under 43% from the field against LSU, and the Tigers have been incredibly disruptive in getting steals and blocking shots.
LSU has also probably benefited from some fortunate opponent shooting luck to this point in the year. Teams are shooting 62% from the foul line against the Tigers, and under 27% from 3-point land.
Don’t get it twisted, this is still an elite defensive unit, but water may get closer to its level as the year goes on.
In Pinson and Day’s absence, Eric Gaines has elevated his game to a new level for LSU. The sophomore has hit huge shots in crunch time, and has gone for double figures in four of his last five outings. He’ll need to be big again on Saturday against a sound TCU defense.
Lastly, if there is one area where the LSU defense has not been elite, it would be on the glass. TCU is a big and physical team that really goes after offensive rebounds, so limiting the Horned Frogs to one shot will be key for Will Wade’s squad.
Jamie Dixon’s TCU has more than held its own in a loaded Big 12 this season. The Frogs have road wins over Kansas State and Iowa State, and they also beat Oklahoma in Fort Worth.
In its last time out however, TCU had its worst performance of the season, taking a 73-50 defeat at the hands of Texas. Dixon was thoroughly disappointed in his post game press conference, calling it one of the worst losses he’s been a part of.
For TCU to get back on track and pull off the big win against LSU, it simply needs more consistent production from its best offensive weapons. Texas Tech transfer Micah Peavy has struggled to make shots off the bench, and senior forward Chuck O’Bannon Jr. has had too many games where he’s a non-factor.
While the offense has been up-and-down for the Horned Frogs, the defense has been reliable throughout. TCU has been particularly strong on the interior, both from a rim protection standpoint, as well as in defensive rebounding.
With LSU potentially shorthanded again, there’s no reason the Frogs cannot make things really difficult for the Tigers in the half-court.
LSU vs. TCU Betting Pick
When I look at this game from a betting perspective, one play jumps out at me and I’m not gonna overthink it.
Both of these teams possess elite defenses that have given problems to their opponents all year. Neither team wants to play particularly fast offensively, especially the Horned Frogs, who check in at 317th in average possession length.
Dixon knows his team let down the fanbase when it laid an egg against Texas in front of the biggest crowd it has ever had at Schollmaier Arena. He’ll have his team fired up and ready to guard hard for 40 minutes in this one.
Toss in the fact that LSU will very likely be without Pinson and possibly Days, and it’s hard to envision a scenario where LSU lights it up on the offensive end.
On the other end, the Tigers’ defense has been its calling card all year, and that has held true on the road. TCU just doesn’t have the type of shotmakers you need to consistently score it on LSU.
I expect a very competitive game in this early tip to start off the Big 12/SEC Challenge. I don’t know who will pull it out, but I can say with confidence that points will be hard to come by.
Give me the under at 124 in what should be a fun one in Fort Worth.