Texas Southern vs. Mount St. Mary’s Odds & Pick: Bet Mountaineers To Win First NCAA Tournament Play-In
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Chong Qui.
- With the First Four kicking off the action on Thursday, March Madness is officially upon us.
- The Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers will meet the Texas Southern Tigers in the first play-in game of the NCAA Tournament.
- Check out how college basketball analysts BJ Cunningham and Kyle Remillard are betting the game below.
Texas Southern vs. Mount St. Mary’s Odds
|Texas Southern Odds||-1|
|Mount St. Mary’s Odds||+1|
|Moneyline||-110 / -110|
|Time||Thursday, 5:10 p.m. ET|
A berth as a No. 16 seed is on the line Thursday night when Texas Southern faces off against Mount St. Mary’s in a massive contrast in styles.
Mount St. Mary’s won the NEC as the four-seed after upsetting both Wagner and Bryant. The Mountaineers did this through their defense that allows just 62.3 points per game while playing at a snail’s pace.
They’re one of the better rebounding teams in the country, as they work to own the paint both offensively and defensively,
Texas Southern has won 14 of its last 15 games and played downhill, attacking the rim which led it to average 74.8 points per game. It’s an untraditional team in modern basketball that rarely shoots the 3-ball, rather scoring the vast majority of its points in the paint.
That strategy led the Tigers to a SWAC Championship, but will they be able to penetrate against the stingy Mountaineers defense?
Mount St. Mary’s
Kyle Remillard: The Mount secured their ticket after winning the NEC tournament as the four-seed upsetting both Wagner and Bryant. Defense carried the Mountaineers, who ranked first in the conference allowing just 94.1 points per every 100 possessions, according to KenPom.
They’re the second-lowest team in the NCAA Tournament in terms of adjusted efficiency margin ahead of only Texas Southern, their opponent in the play-in game.
The Mountaineers will be without Jalen Gibbs, who was the leading scorer for this team, averaging 16.5 points and 4.5 rebounds before opting out for the season in December due to COVID-19 concerns.
Since then, Damian Chong Qui, a 5-foot-8 point guard, took the lead role for the Mount averaging 14.9 points, 5.5 assists, and 4.0 rebounds. It also looks to Nana Opoku, a physical specimen who puts up 10.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. Alongside Opoku downlow are another pair of 6-foot-9 forwards in Mezie Offurum and Malik Jefferson. That trio is among the biggest set of forwards in all of mid-major basketball.
The Mount just missed not being in the First Four in, which gives it a date with Texas Southern in the first round.
Honestly, it’s not the worst-case situation for Mt. Saint Mary’s, which will have an opportunity to win a game before having a date with destiny against the powerhouse Michigan Wolverines.
The Mountaineers should be able to dictate the tempo in this play-in game, which is something Texas Southern hasn’t seen all season in the SWAC.
BJ Cunningham: After losing its opening two conference games, Texas Southern cruised through the SWAC, winning 14 of its last 15 games of the season. It got some revenge against No. 1 seed Prairie View A&M after dropping both of the regular season matchups, beating it 80-61 in the SWAC Championship game.
Texas Southern quite literally almost does all of its scoring inside the arc and at the free-throw line. Only 18.6% of its points come from 3-point range, which is 346th in the country. The reason for that is it hardly attempts any 3-pointers (27.8% of field goal attempts), and it shoots only 27.7% from behind the arc.
The Tigers are decent at scoring inside, shooting 51% from 2-point range and 60.1% on shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop-Math.
However, where they truly excel is on the offensive glass and getting to the free-throw line. Texas Southern is inside the top 40 nationally in both offensive rebound and free-throw rate. So, the Tigers truly do rely on a large percentage of their point coming on second-chance opportunities and at the free-throw line.
Defensively, Texas Southern may have only allowed 0.89 points per possession in SWAC play this season, but on a national landscape, its defense doesn’t hold any weight. Per KenPom, the Tigers are 236th in defensive efficiency and really struggled in the non-conference against Power Five schools like Oklahoma State and Auburn.
What Texas Southern will have to deal with is a sudden change in pace since Mount St. Mary’s plays at one of the slowest tempos in the country. The Tigers love to get out and push the pace, ranking 74th in adjusted tempo, so it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they will be able to get Mount St. Mary’s out of their comfort zone defensively.
Matchup & Betting Analysis
Kyle Remillard: This game opened with Texas Southern as 2-point favorites, but sharp action quickly moved it down to a pick’em. As of writing, 58% of the bets have come in on Texas Southern, while the Mount has taken 83% of the money.
I’m following the sharps on this game and backing Mount St. Mary’s.
Bryant averaged 83.9 points and plays at a very similar up-tempo pace as Texas Southern. The Mount completely locked down the Bulldogs, holding them to just 68 points and slowing the game down. I anticipate a similar game flow in this one with the Mountaineers being able to play at the slow pace they want.
They also own one of the biggest frontcourts of all the mid-majors with three players standing at 6-foot-9 and making life extremely difficult for Texas Southern to score down low.
The Tigers are going to look to push the ball in transition to help create easy buckets. Scoring in the paint won’t come easy for Texas Southern as it did in the SWAC.
The Mount packs the paint and is one of the top rebounding teams in the nation. It owns the 31st-ranked 2-point defense in the nation and is even better at defending the 3-point shot.
I learned my lesson the hard way when I backed Bryant’s offense over this Mount defense. I won’t be making the same mistake twice; this Mount defense is the real deal.
Pick: Mount St. Marys +0.5 (Play down to -1).