Montana State vs. Texas Tech Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Lay the Points in NCAA Tournament First Round
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech)
- No. 3 seed Texas Tech is a huge favorite over No. 14 seed Montana State in Friday's NCAA Tournament first round.
- We like the Red Raiders' defense to come up big her and limit the Bobcats, allowing them to cover the big spread.
- Get our full Texas Tech vs. Montana State preview and pick below.
Montana State vs. Texas Tech Odds
|Montana State Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Texas Tech Odds|
-110o / -110u
By D.J. James
Texas Tech is the most dominant defensive team in the country, and it matches up with Montana State in the Round of 64 on Friday. The Bobcats are a fairly balanced team, but they have had their own issues late in the season. Texas Tech will be the best team it’s played all season by far.
Now, the Bobcats are strong when it comes to getting to the free throw line. Per ShotQuality, they rank ninth in free throw rate, but otherwise, as long as the Red Raiders don’t get sloppy, Texas Tech should be able to handle them.
Another issue the Red Raiders have had this season has been turning the ball over. Montana State ranks only 182nd in the NCAA in turnover rate at 18.2%, per KenPom.
These are the only issues that could hurt Texas Tech. It will be dominant otherwise.
It will force turnovers consistently, as it’s done all season against better competition in the Big 12. The Red Raiders’ bigs should have a significant edge on the interior, and since Montana State also has a tendency to foul — even more than the Red Raiders — Texas Tech should have a clear advantage.
It should cover this spread and potentially win by more than 20 points.
By Matt Cox
Danny Sprinkle is taking Montana State basketball into uncharted waters. For years, the Bobcats played second fiddle to in-state rival Montana in the Big Sky. Now, they wear the crown, carrying the burden as this year’s Big Sky representative.
MSU was once synonymous with high-octane offenses, but those teams came at the expense of defense. Under Sprinkle, those priorities are flipped. Rugged and tough are the prevailing descriptors of the new-look Bobcats.
The bedrock of MSU’s identity is Jubrile Belo. The Englishman — one of a few on this roster — anchors the Big Sky’s top defensive unit. He spearheads the league’s top interior defense and top block rate, per KenPom.
For those who subscribe to the “defense wins in March” narrative, the Bobcats are right in your wheelhouse.
Along with Belo, Xavier Bishop, Amin Adamu and Abdul Mohamed form a solid “core four” of Sprinkle’s nucleus. This summer, they all returned to Bozeman to build on Sprinkle’s vision, but it’s been the new kid on the block, RaeQuan Battle, hogging the headlines.
Battle, a former blue-chip recruit from Washington, has had a flair for the dramatic this season. As a power conference caliber shot maker, Sprinkle’s found the missing link to his offense.
Along with sharpshooting Tyler Patterson, Montana State is finally a well rounded and balanced attack offensively.
Texas Tech enters the NCAA Tournament with the best defense in the entire country, per KenPom, Bart Torvik and ShotQuality. The Red Raiders allow almost nothing at the rim, as Mark Adams is a disciple of the Chris Beard “no middle” defense that helped lead Texas Tech to the national championship in 2019.
The Red Raiders are deep (39th in bench minutes), big (29th in height) and old (42nd in experience). All of that is a recipe for a team capable of making a run deep into the tournament.
Across the board, the statistical profile of the defense doesn’t show many weaknesses.
The Red Raiders are top-15 at guarding the rim, guarding post-ups and taking away mid-range looks, per ShotQuality. Texas Tech can be had from the perimeter, as it’s a bit weaker at guarding in this particular area.
However, the Red Raiders are also top-10 in turnovers forced rate and can apply a ton of ball pressure if a team is hitting shots on them or having an excellent shooting night.
The biggest question for the Red Raiders is offense. They don’t have a Jarrett Culver-type to get baskets and run the offense through like 2019. The Red Raiders are third in SQ in transition offensively, but the half-court offense is below average.
Injury uncertainty surrounding Kevin McCullar is significant, as he’s the primary ball handler. Terrence Shannon Jr. has been inconsistent in his offensive production, too.
The Red Raiders are one of the most balanced offenses in the entire country, which can be good, but can also be tough in late-game situations. That may not matter in the opening round against Montana State, but the Red Raiders don’t have a bucket getter in the half-court in late-game situations.
Montana State vs. Texas Tech Betting Pick
By D.J. James
Since the Red Raiders have a clear advantage with their depth and can guard the inside, they should come out as the dominant victors in this Round of 64 affair.
Montana State is used to getting to the strike, and if it fouls Texas Tech at a similar clip or more often, it essentially rules out this edge right away.
Texas Tech is the best defensive team in the country for a reason. It’s held powerhouse offenses to less than 70 points multiple times this season, and can do the same here against Montana State.
If the Red Raiders force turnovers and don’t turn it over as much themselves, they should decisively win this game. This is a team that probably matches up with Gonzaga — the best in the West Region — so it should have a path forward in this game.
Pick: Texas Tech -15 (Play to -16.5)
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