Texas Tech vs. Utah State Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Aggies Can Keep it Close in NCAA Tournament Opener (March 19)

Texas Tech vs. Utah State Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Aggies Can Keep it Close in NCAA Tournament Opener (March 19) article feature image
Credit:

John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyler Edwards (left) and Mac McClung (right).

  • Updated Texas Tech vs. Utah State odds list the Red Raiders are a 4.5-point favorite.
  • The Aggies snuck into the tournament by some estimations, while Texas Tech is looking to make it back to the Final Four.
  • Get our Texas Tech vs. Utah State pick below.

Texas Tech vs. Utah State Odds

Texas Tech Odds -4.5
Utah State Odds +4.5
Moneyline -186 / +155
Over/Under 131.5
Time Friday, 1:45 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds as of Friday morning and via DraftKings.

No. 6 Texas Tech faces No. 11 Utah State in a showdown of two elite defensive teams.

The Red Raiders (17-10) finished sixth in the Big 12 with a record of 9-8. Head coach Chris Beard’s team struggled to find consistency, with alternating three-game winning and losing streaks from Jan. 30 to March 4.

Texas Tech is hoping to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament after losing, 67-66, in the conference tournament quarterfinals to eventual champion Texas.

Utah State finished right behind San Diego State in second place for the Mountain West Conference title. The Aggies finished 20-8 overall and capped off an impressive regular season with four straight wins.

They defeated UNLV in a true road game and a tough Colorado State squad before losing 68-57 in the conference tournament finals in the Aztecs.

Which team holds the betting edge in this first-round matchup between two great defenses and coaches?

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Texas Tech

Andrew Norton: Despite Texas Tech’s underwhelming 17-10 record, this team can be dangerous. The Red Raiders have two wins over the No. 3 seed Texas Longhorns. They’ve played tight games in defeat, too, with one-point losses to No. 3 seeds Kansas, West Virginia and Texas as well as a five-point loss to No. 4 seed Oklahoma State. Had the Red Raiders closed out even two of those games, I think the consensus on them would be much stronger.

The Red Raiders are led by junior guard, and Georgetown transfer, Mac McClung. When McClung is on, they are an incredibly difficult team to beat. He pours in 15.7 points per game on 42.3% shooting from the field. In addition, they also have sophomore guard, Terrence Shannon Jr., who is putting up 12.7 points per game.

If the Red Raiders want to go far, they need these two guys to jump-start the offense. I have no concerns with them holding onto the ball, as they only average 11 turnovers per game, which puts them at 24th in the nation in that category, per Team Rankings.

The Red Raiders have struggled this season when the ball stops moving and McClung gets double-teamed, usually off of ball screens. This can cause their offense to be stagnant and it’s imperative that they don’t get caught taking bad shots at the end of the shot clock.

I would define McClung as an elite athlete and high-volume scorer, but for the team’s success, they will need to rely heavily on distributing the offensive workload to multiple guys. That way, they can keep the opposing defense guessing, thus freeing up better looks for McClung. It takes a lot of pressure off of him too.

Defensively, this squad is rock solid, ranking 24th in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom. There are no concerns about whether or not this team will show up and play hard for head coach Chris Beard, but the team just lacks consistency.

They lost their past two games, but won three straight before that. To be fair, those two losses came against Baylor, and then the one point loss to eventual Big 12 tournament champion, Texas. What they need is an offensive revival, and maybe then they can find themselves rattling off multiple wins for a solid NCAA tournament run.

Utah State

Andrew Norton: Utah State is riding a hot streak: It has won six of its past seven games, with its only loss coming against San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference Finals.

The Aggies’ loss to the Aztecs was untimely, sure. But, Utah State defeated San Diego State twice during the regular season, and that Aztecs team earned a 6-seed in this year’s tournament.

Utah State is led by junior 7-foot center Neemias Queta, who averages a double-double with 15.1 points and 10 rebounds per game. Expect the Aggies to work inside-out, dropping it into Queta and waiting for him to either make a move and score or draw a double-team and kick it out to one of the Aggies’ 3-point shooters.

The Aggies only shoot 33.7% from behind the arc, but make no mistake: This team can get red-hot at any time. Utah State aptly demonstrated this in its games against Nevada, UNLV and Colorado State, shooting over 50% from the 3-point line en route to wins in all three contests. In fact, the Aggies have won every single one of their games this season when the team shoots at least 40% from 3.

The formula for this team is there, but can it shoot the ball well enough for an early March Madness upset over Texas Tech?

On the other end of the floor, the Aggies have an exceptional defense that has caused opposing offenses a lot of trouble this year. Utah State ranks eighth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom, and could cause serious issues for a Texas Tech team with some offensive identity issues.

If Utah State intends to make a deep tournament run, then it must find other offensive solutions besides Queta, who will likely be the focus of opposing defenses.

Utah State vs. Texas Tech Pick

Mike Randle: This is the best coaching matchup of the opening round. Chris Beard and Craig Smith are elite game strategists with a foundation in hard-nosed defense. While Texas Tech plays in the much harder conference, I’m backing the Aggies as a very live underdog. Queta is a difference-maker inside, and Tech will struggle to limit him while also defending Utah State’s perimeter 3-point threats.

The Red Raiders are not a consistent 3-point shooting team and generated 53.4% of their points in conference play from inside the arc. That is the strength of a Utah State defense that only allowed opponents to score 42.9% from 2-point range, the fourth-best mark in the country.

Per our live betting data as of Thursday, 53% of the bets are on Utah State, with the Aggies also drawing 62% of the money. This indicates sharps and public are aligned on the underdog, and we will be as well.

Pick: Utah State +4.5 (down to +3.5).

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