Fairleigh Dickinson vs Texas Southern Odds, Picks for NCAA Tournament

Fairleigh Dickinson vs Texas Southern Odds, Picks for NCAA Tournament article feature image

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Jones (Texas Southern)

Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Texas Southern Odds

Wednesday, March 15
6:40 p.m. ET
Fairleigh Dickinson Odds
-110o / -110u
Texas Southern Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Bet365. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Texas Southern is back in the First Four! It’s the third straight year the Tigers have played in Dayton and the fifth time since 2014. They have won the last three meetings.

TSU is not its normal self — the Tigers went just 7-11 against SWAC competition — but an impressive run through the conference tournament meant a return to familiar territory.

Fairleigh Dickinson is a familiar participant, as well. The Knights were here in 2016 and 2019, going 1-1 in those games.

FDU has the peculiar position of not having won its conference tournament. The Knights fell to Merrimack in the NEC Championship, but FDU received the NCAA automatic bid regardless because of Merrimack’s D-I transition status.

FDU also took second in the regular season, again finishing behind Merrimack.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

FDU didn't win the NEC Tournament or regular season, but KenPom actually ranks it as the league’s best team by the narrowest of margins.

The Knights are a fun experiment of “what if a Division II team played in the Big Dance?” Coach Tobin Anderson is in his first year after arriving from St. Thomas Aquinas, and he did not come alone.

The team’s diminutive starting backcourt — 5-foot-8 Demetre Roberts and 5-foot-9 Grant Singleton — followed Anderson from STAC and were the NEC’s best guard tandem.

Both can bomb away from deep at a high volume, and though Roberts is the better on-ball creator, both are willing and intelligent passers.

A third STAC transfer — Sean Moore — has also become a consistent starter. He fits the mold of this roster: small but skilled.

Nominal center Ansley Almonor is arguably the team’s best shooter, and all five guys on the floor can attack off the bounce. Notably, Anderson plays no one taller than 6-foot-6.

The tradeoff for having so much skill on the floor is a frighteningly poor defense.

FDU plays an extremely compact man-to-man to compensate for its total lack of size, hoping to induce jumpers. But when foes do get to the rim, they score incredibly efficiently. Per Hoop-Math, opponents shoot 63.7% at the rim, a bottom-25 mark in the country.

The Knights also struggle on the defensive glass and get caught fouling due to their size/athleticism disadvantage.

Surprisingly, Anderson rarely mixes in zones (just 4.7% of possessions, per Synergy). The defensive rebounding might become catastrophically bad in that alignment, but it would help keep foes away from the paint on first-shot defense.

Against TSU’s athletic frontcourt, that might be a useful curveball.

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Texas Southern Tigers

As mentioned, this TSU team was not the typical SWAC juggernaut of old. Context matters there, though.

Key starters PJ Henry, Joirdon Karl Nicholas and Kolby Granger all missed time in early January, and sixth-man Jordan Gilliam had a four-game absence, as well.

The Tigers got off to an awful 0-5 start to SWAC play while playing incredibly short-handed, and a 7-6 finish was only enough to earn the eight-seed in the tournament.

We saw the real version of these Tigers in the postseason, though. Henry’s high-volume attack mode produced 56 points in three games; he’s probably TSU’s most irreplaceable piece.

Nicholas, Davon Barnes and John Walker III dominated the paint, as well. TSU collected 34 combined offensive rebounds in the semifinals and championship. That trio is a handful for most opponents — and FDU’s tiny frontline could be in serious trouble.

TSU’s biggest flaw is a complete lack of shooting. To the Tigers’ credit, they smartly do not launch from the perimeter, but when you rank 354th nationally in percentage of points scored from beyond the arc, it means your offense is somewhat one-dimensional.

TSU will do everything possible to barrage the rim in this one, either for dunks/layups or trips to the free-throw line.

Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Texas Southern Betting Pick

TSU’s success in the First Four often comes down to its impressive athleticism level for a low-major. Johnny Jones hunts the transfer portal and consistently induces talented players to play in the SWAC.

That edge should be especially stark in this one, as FDU is quite literally the smallest team in the country.

TSU’s rangy perimeter defenders can help compensate for FDU’s speed/quickness edge, though the Tigers lack a rim protector like last year’s Brison Gresham.

Ultimately, this is a talent/athleticism bet for me. TSU is playing like the team picked to win the SWAC in the preseason, while FDU did not even win the worst conference in the country this season.

FDU will find some success with its versatile lineup, but the defensive sieve will be a huge problem.

Plus, most of TSU’s roster won this round last season (Walker, Nicholas and Gilliam were around in 2021 also), and that experience should matter.

Pick: Texas Southern -2 (Play to -3)

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