The two-seed Texas basketball will have a shot at advancing to its first Sweet 16 since 2008 as it takes on the upstart 10-seed Penn State Nittany Lions in the second round of the Big Dance on March 18. Texas and interim head coach Rodney Terry have one of the more interesting matchups of the Round of 32 ahead on the night of March 18 against a streaking team out of the Big Ten in head coach Micah Shrewsberry and the Nittany Lions.
Texas comes into this matchup against Penn State with a record of 27-8 (12-6 Big 12) after an 81-61 win over the 15-seed Colgate Raiders in the first round on March 16. Terry and the Longhorns have won five straight games.
Penn State comes in with a record of 23-13 (10-10 Big Ten) after a surprisingly-dominant win over the seven-seed Texas A&M Aggies in the first round, by a score of 76-59, on March 16. The final score also indicated that the game was closer than it actually was throughout much of the contest after the first eight or 10 minutes.
Here’s a look at the betting odds and game prediction as the two-seed Texas gets set to square off against the 10-seed Penn State in the Midwest Region Round of 32 on March 18. The tip-off time for this game is set for 6:45 p.m. CT at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA, and will be televised on CBS.
Texas basketball vs. Penn State: Betting odds for Round of 32
Texas is a 5.5-point favorite against Penn State and the over/under is set at 137.5 (per FanDuel).
The moneyline favors Texas (-220) over Penn State (+180).
According to Kenpom, Texas has a 70 percent chance of beating Penn State. And Kenpom predicts Texas to beat Penn State 75-69, which is the same projection that initially came out with the opening odds a couple of days ago.
The betting lines for this game haven’t moved much, as the Longhorns originally opened up as a 5.5-point favorite over Penn State on the night of March 16.
Texas vs. Penn State prediction
Penn State is going to be one of the most formidable teams that Texas has faced outside of the Big 12 this season. Shrewsberry and the Nittany Lions have performed well against Quad 1 opponents of late, and posted a record of 8-7 on the season so far.
For Texas to be able to secure a win in the Round of 32, it must be able to command the pace and set the tone in the paint. In the half-dozen games this season where the Nittany Lions let up at least 38 points in the paint to its opponent, Shrewsberry’s squad posted a record of 2-4.
Penn State plays at one of the slower paces in the country this season, at a clip of just over 64 possessions per 40 minutes (25th slowest in the NCAA).
If Texas can force the issue and get Penn State out of sorts early by setting the tone in the paint and running in fast in transition, that will go a long way to controlling the pace of this game throughout.
I like Texas’ advantages here in terms of frontcourt and bench depth. Texas leads all major conference in bench scoring this season and also has an edge on Penn State in points per game and field goal percentage in the paint.
Texas has also done a nice job this season cashing in on opponent’s turnovers. The Longhorns rank fourth among all major conference teams this season, scoring 18.4 points per game off turnovers.
Texas should have an edge on Penn State in multiple regards, but Terry and the Longhorns can’t take the threat that the Nittany Lions pose in terms of three-point shooting proficiency lightly. Penn State is a really good tough-shot-making team, and Texas must be prepared to respond if the Nittany Lions get hot early from deep.