Texas A&M Corpus Christi vs. Texas Southern Odds, Picks: Bet the Islanders in First Four Matchup

Texas A&M Corpus Christi vs. Texas Southern Odds, Picks: Bet the Islanders in First Four Matchup article feature image

Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Texas Southern’s Joirdon Karl Nicholas

  • Texas A&M Corpus Christi takes on Texas Southern in the NCAA Tournament First Four on Tuesday evening.
  • The Islanders enter as short underdogs but may hold betting value.
  • Check out our best bet for this matchup, courtesy of Ky McKeon of Three Man Weave.

Texas A&M Corpus Christi vs. Texas Southern Odds

Tuesday, March 15
6:40 p.m. ET
Texas A&M Corpus Christi Odds
-110o / -110u
Texas Southern Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

A Lone Star State battle in the city of Dayton. Texas Southern and Texas A&M Corpus Christi meet on Tuesday for the chance to get boat-raced by the 1-seed Kansas Jayhawks.

Neither TSU nor TAMU-CC won their respective conferences during the regular season, but both were among the best teams in their leagues.

For the Islanders out of the Southland, it’s their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007. The SWAC's Tigers are here for the second-straight year.

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Texas A&M Corpus Christi Attacks the Rim

Steve Lutz took over the TAMU-CC program this season and wildly exceeded expectations.

Most thought the Islanders would finish in the basement of the lowly Southland, but Lutz had other plans. An assistant at Purdue and Creighton, among others, Lutz learned under the great Greg McDermott and Matt Painter. He proved this season he is among the best mid-major coaches in the land.

TAMU-CC finished 20-10 against the spread, the seventh-best mark in the country. In non-conference play, the Islanders went 8-2 ATS and gave Texas A&M, Minnesota and Notre Dame everything they could handle. This team is no pushover.

Like most Southland teams TAMU-CC plays fast on offense (29thfastest offensive tempo in the country). The Islanders want to get out in transition, using their defense to create offense via turnovers.

Lutz’s squad isn’t good in the half-court. His team cannot shoot and doesn’t attempt many outside shots. The Islanders rank just 277th in 3-point percentage and 269th in 2-point percentage.

Instead of shooting, TAMU-CC attacks the rim. Per Hoop-Math, the Islanders rank 11th in the country in FGA% at the rim, though finishing there isn’t always a guarantee.

Because it attacks the rim so hard, TAMU-CC earns trips to the free throw line often. The Islanders rank 18th in the country in FTA rate and third in percentage of points scored from the free throw line.

And, unlike many aggressive rim attack teams, TAMU-CC can actually make free throws. The Islanders shoot 75% from the stripe as a team, the 65thbest mark in the nation.

TAMU-CC also attacks the glass after it attacks the rim. The Islanders are the nation’s 16th-best offensive rebounding team by rate.

Stud JUCO transfer Isaac Mushila averages nearly a double-double and is one of the best rebounders in the country despite standing just 6-foot-5.

Defensively, TAMU-CC will pressure you in the full-court a bit and make you uncomfortable in the half-court. The Islanders rank 18th nationally in turnover rate, though the Southland is notoriously one of the worst ball-handling leagues every season.

This aggressive style of play leads to many forced turnovers, however, it also leads to many fouls. The Islanders have a 41.6% defensive FTA rate, meaning they send opponents to the line at the 10thhighest rate in the country.

Poised teams that can take care of the ball and make free throws can beat the Islanders.

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Texas Southern is Deep, Experienced

Texas Southern is battle-tested. The Tigers, as they often do, played the nation’s 14thtoughest non-conference schedule, beating Florida and hanging with Saint Mary’s, NC State and Washington, as well.

Conference play was a little more challenging than expected. TSU was supposed to roll the SWAC, but finished in second place behind Alcorn State. Nevertheless, the Tigers came together and won when it mattered most. We’d expect nothing less from the third-oldest team in the country.

TSU is not your typical SWAC school. Most of TSU’s rotation are former transfers, and the talent is considerable. Head coach Johnny Jones plays the most bench minutes in the country; his team is deep and multiple guys can be the leader on a given night.

Like TAMU-CC, TSU is mostly a rim-attack team, though not quite as extreme. The Tigers rank just 275th in 3-point percentage and don’t take many 3s, but they settle for more mid-rangers than their Southland foe.

Ball screens are a staple in Jones’ offense, and he has a cadre of solid guards and long wings who can create offense.

Transition is key for the Tigers, as is offensive rebounding. TSU has a lot more size than TAMU-CC.

Brison Gresham is a 6-foot-9, 240-pound Houston transfer who studied under Kelvin Sampson, while 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward Joirdon Karl Nicholas is a Stephen F. Austin transfer (by way of Montana) who studied under Kyle Keller. These are two tough forwards molded by tough-minded coaches.

TSU’s size is going to be a major issue for TAMU-CC on both ends of the floor. The Islanders will likely struggle keeping the Tigers off the boards and stopping them in the post.

On the other end, TSU is built to stop ball penetration. The Tigers rank 27th in the country in block rate, 21st in 2PFG% allowed and 25th in FG% allowed at the rim. The Islanders cannot out-physical nor out-athlete the Tigers.

Concerns for the Tigers are two-fold. First, TSU is at risk of getting “block happy,” that is overselling for blocked shots instead of staying home and playing sound defense. Disciplined, smart teams can beat block-happy teams. It opens up opportunities for naked put-backs and wide-open layups.

Second, TSU is one of the worst ball-handling teams in the country. Though the Tigers aren’t strangers to pressure playing in the SWAC, they still rank 333rd nationally in turnover rate.

TAMU-CC could cause them major issues with its pressure.

Texas A&M Corpus Christi vs. Texas Southern Betting Pick

Most will likely gravitate towards the Tigers on Tuesday, and thus it might be smart to wait on the line to climb a bit if you like the dog. Texas Southern has the name recognition (it won a First Four game just last year) and the Florida win is bound to be in the minds of bettors and casual fans alike.

But do not overlook Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The Islanders are extremely well-coached and should force the Tigers into plenty of mistakes.

I’ll wager TAMU-CC keeps this game within one possession, and possibly wins it outright.

Pick: Texas A&M Corpus Christi +3.5 (down to +3)

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Doug Ziefel
Jun 22, 2024 UTC