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No. 3 Texas vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Texas Longhorns and Abilene Christian Wildcats meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Why you should keep your eye on Texas in the East region

March 19 update: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 3 Texas vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian as of March 19th at 11 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Texas: -8.5: 54% of action, 68% of bets
ACU: +8.5: 46% of action, 32% of bets

Over 139.5: 66% of action, 59% of bets
Under 139.5: 34% of action, 41% of bets

Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for Texas vs. Abilene Christian as of March 18th at 10:00 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Texas -9: 58% of handle, 66% of bets
Abilene Christian +9: 42% of handle, 34% of bets
Over 139.5: 80% of handle, 63% of bets
Under 139.5: 20% of handle, 37% of bets

The No. 3 seed Texas Longhorns and No. 14 Abilene Christian Wildcats will meet in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 20th. Texas is favored but only by single digits, so oddsmakers suggest a close game down the stretch isn’t that unlikely. Saturday’s game will start at 9:50 p.m. ET from Lucas Oil Stadium on truTV.

No. 3 Texas: 19-7 (11-6 BIG 12): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 26 Overall, 21 Offense, 36 Defense
NET ranking: 21, (8-6 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Andrew Jones
Key stat: The Longhorns ranked second in the Big 12 in rebounding margin.

Shaka Smart needed a big year from Texas, and he got it with the Longhorns on a five-game winning streak going into the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns are led by a trio of guards who all play at least 30 minutes per game and average double-digit points with Andrew Jones, Matt Coleman III and Courtney Ramey.

Watch for Texas to go hard on the offensive rebounds as forwards Greg Brown, Jericho Sims and Kai Jones do a great job giving the Longhorns second chance opportunities.

No. 14 Abilene Christian: 23-4 (13-2 Southland): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 86 Overall, 157 Offense, 30 Defense
NET ranking: 74 (0-2 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Kolton Kohl
Key stat: Abilene Christian allows 60.5 points per game, nearly 10 points less than the second-fewest points allowed in the Southland.

Defense is far and away Abilene Christian’s strong suit and if they’re playing at their best at that end of the floor, they should keep this game competitive. The Wildcats are not a very good shooting team but if they find a way to get hot, they can win in a one-game scenario.

Watch for junior forward Joe Pleasant to look for his shot at the three-point line. He made 12 of his last 16 from long range over the last six games.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Texas -9
Total: 139
Moneyline: Texas -455, Abilene Christian +350

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Abilene Christian
Point total pick: Under 139
Pick to Win: Texas

Abilene Christian will obviously see much better offensive competition than what they see each week in the Southland, but their defensive intensity must remain the same and will, making this game go under the total. Texas will win this game in the end, but they will be tested as this game remains under a single-digit margin throughout. Abilene Christian should be the more motivated team in taking down the in-state power and will cover this number.