College Basketball Computer Picks for February 19: Texas Bounces Back at Home


The sportsbooks have released their betting odds for today’s college basketball action, and three games interest me: Virginia vs. Virginia Tech, Iowa State vs. Houston and Kansas State vs. Texas.

For your best bets, I will recommend investing in Virginia, Houston and Texas to cover the spread.

Picks Summary

  • Virginia +3.5 (-105)
  • Houston -9.5 (-110)
  • Texas -8.5 (-110)

*All odds from Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

Monday, February 19, 2024 – 07:00 PM ET at Cassell Coliseum

Our computers project a tight rivalry game in which Virginia hangs on to cover the spread. I agree with this projection and find that you should play the Cavaliers.

Virginia’s Lockdown Defense

As one would expect from a Tony Bennett-coached team, Virginia has one of the toughest defensive units in the nation. The Cavs rank ninth in the nation in defensive efficiency.

Their excellent defense regularly makes them competitive against tough offenses. Most recently, they just held Wake Forest, which ranks 36th nationally in offensive efficiency, to 47 points.

Ball Pressure

A superficial glance at the stats might tempt people into thinking that Virginia Tech can score against this Virginia defense.

The Hoos do give up a lot of threes, and Virginia Tech does want to focus on making threes. However, the Hokies will need to make good passes for the ball-handler to find and reach a teammate behind the arc.

This process will be difficult to complete because of a key component of Tony Bennet’s pack-line defense: ball pressure. Virginia possesses dedicated on-ball defenders whose ball pressure makes it difficult for opposing ball-handlers to aid their offense in its endeavor to find a rhythm.

On offense, the Hokies rank toward the very bottom in the ACC at limiting turnovers, which suggests that their ball-handlers lack the comfort and composure necessary to endure strong ball pressure. Instead of finding teammates, Virginia Tech’s ball-handlers will commit turnovers and otherwise struggle to find a rhythm.

Virginia Tech’s Weaker Defense

Unlike Virginia’s, Virginia Tech’s defense is deeply vulnerable. The Hokies rank tenth in the ACC at limiting opposing three-point percentage and eleventh in the ACC at limiting opposing two-point percentage.

Regarding the former, teams are rather easily able to secure strong three-point shooting opportunities.

As for the latter, the Hokies lack defenders down low with the strength and ability to contain skilled post players, with Virginia Tech’s losses to Duke and North Carolina providing two examples where this lack came into play.

How Virginia Takes Advantage

Virginia will exploit Virginia Tech’s weakness at limiting two-point efficiency by relying on the physicality of center Jordan Minor, who scored a season-high 16 points in UVA’s earlier win against the Hokies. Minor will help draw double teams from the Hokies, but also the driving ability of speedy Reece Beekman, and other players will force the Hokies to collapse inside.

By drawing attention from Hokies defenders inside, Virginia will enable its shooters to get open looks behind the arc. The Cavs are dangerous from deep, as they rank number one in the ACC in three-point percentage.

They use flares and pindowns to get guys open behind the arc, although if those would-be shooters are blitzed by opposing defenses looking to stop the three-ball, then they will pass the ball to their open teammate near the basket.

Virginia’s offense is going to be too good – and its defense is anyhow regularly top-caliber – for the favored Hokies to keep pace.

NCAAB Pick: Virginia +3.5 (-105) at Bet365

Iowa State Cyclones vs. Houston Cougars

Monday, February 19, 2024 – 09:00 PM ET at Fertitta Center

Our computers indicate that Houston will dominate Iowa State, so much so that the Cougars will cover the spread. I agree and confidently believe that you should bet on Houston.

The First Meeting

Is it reasonable to expect Houston to win this game by ten points given that it lost the first meeting? The answer is yes because there is no good reason to suspect that this game, a revenge rematch in Houston, will play out as the first one did.

In that first game, the Cougars were not ready out of the gate. Iowa State started off with a 14-point lead. The fact that this game was close – the Cougars lost by four – attests to the ability of Houston to compete against a good team after suffering such a bad start.

Houston’s Suffocating Defense

While ten points might seem like a lot, it actually is not a lot when you think of Houston’s defense. The Cougars own the nation’s most efficient defense.

They displayed this efficiency when they held Iowa State to 57 points. Houston’s on-ball pressure makes it difficult for offenses to find any sort of a rhythm.

Iowa State will have even more trouble finding a rhythm away from home, where they average 12.5 fewer points per game than they do at home.

Given this disparity in their home and away scoring averages, it is reasonable to expect the Cyclones to struggle to reach 50 points.

Houston’s Offense

The Cougars will be able to cover the spread by scoring in the 60s. They will easily reach 60 points by scoring ably inside and outside the arc.

Skeptics might say that Iowa State’s characteristically compact defense will make it hard for Houston to score inside. While the Cougars might be inefficient inside the arc, they will get a lot of scoring opportunities because they energetically use their physicality to crash the offensive glass.

Whereas they rank fourth nationally in offensive rebounding rate, Iowa State ranks near the bottom in preventing opposing offenses from securing rebounds.

Houston’s second-chance points near the rim will complement its duo of LJ Cryer and Emanuel Sharp behind the arc. Both are efficient shooters and both will exploit an Iowa State defense that ranks 352nd at limiting opposing three-point shot attempts.

NCAAB Pick: Houston -9.5 (-110) at Bet365

Kansas State Wildcats vs. Texas Longhorns

Monday, February 19, 2024 – 09:00 PM ET at Moody Center

Our computers project a strong Texas win resulting in a Texas cover, and I agree. Accordingly, you should play the Longhorns.

Kansas State’s Road Wins

Kansas State is worth fading tonight because it is an unreliable road team.  The Wildcats have been competitive on the road against bottom-feeder teams like West Virginia and Oklahoma State.

In order to achieve that rare road upset against a quality team, specifically Texas Tech, they needed to have an unusually strong three-point shooting performance while their opponent struggled from deep.

Both are unlikely because K-State ranks 313th nationally in three-point percentage, whereas Texas ranks among the conference’s leaders in three-point percentage.

K-State simply doesn’t have the shooters to keep up on the road with a team like the Longhorns.

Texas’ Motivation

While skeptics will say that BYU is pretty good and yet K-State only lost by six, the reality is that K-State was down by 17 points when the Cougars took their foot off the pedal.

But Texas will stay focused because it lost its last game by 21 points. Repeatedly throughout the year, it was victimized teams who they’ve faced coming off a bad loss, such as when it beat Wyoming by over 20 and won at Cincinnati.

NCAAB Pick: Texas -8.5 (-110) at Bet365

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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