Texas Tech vs. Northern Kentucky Betting Guide: Can Norse Top Red Raiders’ Stout Defense?

Texas Tech vs. Northern Kentucky Betting Guide: Can Norse Top Red Raiders’ Stout Defense? article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Chris Beard and Northern Kentucky Norse head coach John Brannen

#3 Texas Tech vs. #14 Northern Kentucky NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Texas Tech -13.5
  • Over/Under: 137
  • Date: Friday, March 21
  • Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: TNT
  • Location: Tulsa, Okla.

>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


Texas Tech (15-16-1 against the spread) is the top-rated defense according to KenPom with a season average of 59.3 points per game allowed. It was a bit shocking to see Iowa State throw up 73 in the regular-season finale before West Virginia bounced the Red Raiders from the Big 12 Tournament.

The Mountaineers scored 79 against the highly-touted defense. Could this be a case of fatigue?

The Red Raiders rank 287th in bench minutes, which could indicate tired legs for a squad that rolled through the Big 12 in the month of February. Enter Northern Kentucky (12-20 ATS), which avenged an earlier season loss to Wright State to win the Horizon League. The Norse have the offensive capability to give anyone in the nation a run.

Texas Tech Defense Is Elite, But…

The Red Raiders have the best defensive splits in the nation. They rank first in adjusted efficiency, second in effective field goal percentage, seventh in blocks, and 16th in perimeter defense. Northern Kentucky has played a strength of schedule ranked 256th, with losses to Central Florida and Cincinnati acting as the toughest defenses on its slate.

The big question is the offense after the Red Raiders’ previous two games. Texas Tech ranks in the top 75 in 3-point percentage, but relies on the deep ball for 29.8% of its point distribution, which ranks 240th in the nation. One issue for this Tech team is a Minutes Continuity rank of 277th and a previously mentioned light bench.

Have the Raiders started to wear down?

That leads to a 2-foul participation rank of 20th in the nation. If the Red Raiders get in foul trouble, Chris Beard refuses to utilize the bench. While that may not hurt during the Northern Kentucky game, it is not a formula for a six-game national championship run.

Mismatches when Northern Kentucky Has the Ball

Even with a lackluster schedule, the Norse have proven they can shoot the ball. Ranking 23rd in effective field goal percentage, Northern Kentucky is top 100 from 3-point territory and top 25 in 2-point percentage. Although Texas Tech is considered the best defense in the nation, it is a mid-range rebounding team.

Northern Kentucky ranks in the top 100 in both offensive and defensive rebounding. If the Norse are able to survive a suffocating defense at every square inch of the court, generating a clean shot will be a victory alone. Once Northern Kentucky is able to get clean shots up, chances are they are going to fall.

The advanced numbers suggest the Norse should have no issues on the glass. If Texas Tech is fatigued or gets into foul trouble early, the Norse absolutely have a shot to give the Red Raiders issues.

Finding Value

Texas Tech will certainly be rested after being bounced early in the Big 12 Tournament. As mentioned above, Northern Kentucky is an excellent shooting team and may have advantages in rebounding. The conflict with the Norse is what Texas Tech executes between inbounding the ball and the execution of the shot. The Red Raiders give teams no space and force opponents into mistakes.

While Northern Kentucky is no stranger to fast play as it ranks 85th in average possession length on offense, it is the inability to create space that is the issue. The Norse are 308th in blocks while on offense, which will be a factor against Texas Tech.

Northern Kentucky also has issues at the free throw line, with a rank of 302nd nationally. To get covers home in the NCAA Tournament, a team must be able to nail shots from the charity stripe.

THE PICK: Texas Tech -13.5

Our Projected Odds: Texas Tech vs. Northern Kentucky

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulatorbuilt by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Texas Tech -14
  • Over/Under: 134
  • Score: Texas Tech 74 | Northern Kentucky 60
  • Win Probability: Texas Tech 92.3% | Northern Kentucky 7.7%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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