The No. 11 Texas Longhorns (2-0) host the No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs (2-0) Wednesday at the Moody Center in a matchup between two high-profile basketball programs.
Gonzaga has been considered elite for several years but Texas basketball is poised for a bounce-back under second-year head coach Chris Beard.
The Bulldogs crushed the North Florida Ospreys 104-62 as 30-point favorites in its season opener. Then Gonzaga eked past the Michigan State Spartans 64-63 in the Armed Services Classic this past Friday, failing to cover the 12-point spread.
Texas dump-trucked the Houston Christian Huskies, 82-31 (covering the massive 37-point spread), on Tuesday after beating the UTEP Miners 72-57 and failing to cover as 22-point home favorites.
The Longhorns are the right side Wednesday because UT has more continuity, I bought stock on Beard last year and Texas is taking sharp action.
Betting Details (DraftKings)
- Moneyline (ML): Gonzaga (+120), TEXAS (-140)
- Against the spread (ATS): Gonzaga +2 (-105), Texas -2 (-115)
- Total (O/U) — 144 — O: -110, U: -110
Texas poached Beard from Texas Tech in 2021 and that move is already paying off. UT has the sixth-best recruiting class in 2022 after falling outside the top 75 the two years before landing Beard.
The Longhorns lost in the Round of 32 in last year’s NCAA Tournament. But, they didn’t advance past the first round under the previous head coach Shaka Smart (from 2015-21).
More importantly, Beard is one of the best defensive coaches in college basketball. Through two games, Texas ranks first in adjusted defensive efficiency. His teams have ranked 18th or better in adjusted defensive efficiency since 2018, per Ken Pom.
Defense is more important in college basketball than the NBA because it’s based on effort and communication. While offenses can struggle, especially on the road, because these are college kids.
Beard’s defenses tend to be very aggressive. His teams rank in the top 20 of defensive turnover rate (TOV%) for six straight seasons and running.
Gonzaga has been clumsy with the ball through two games, ranking 244th in offensive TOV%. Also, the Bulldogs were force-feeding the ball into senior big Drew Timme vs. Michigan State. This strategy will backfire against a team as locked in defensively as UT.
Speaking of “communication,” Texas returned a higher percentage of points scored and minutes played from last year’s roster than Gonzaga, per Sports Reference. Experience is very important in college basketball, especially early in the season.
Finally, DraftKings Sportsbook is reporting via VSIN that more money is on the Longhorns while more bets have been placed on the Bulldogs. Since sharps bet a lot more cash than the public, let’s follow the money and …
BET: Texas (-140) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -150
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