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Wake Forest vs Texas Picks – James puts Texas on his back to get to second round

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/15/2010 2:48:32 PM

Online betting players thought highly of Texas to start the season and to a lesser extent, Wake Forest, but both have fallen on their face over the second half of the season to set up this intriguing matchup in the East region. Both have battled issues with leadership this year, and one team in particular will look to their senior leader to avoid their first loss in the opening day of the NCAA Tournament since 2005.

  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Thursday, March 18, 9:35 PM ET
  • Where: New Orleans Arena – New Orleans, LA
  • Key Stat: Wake Forest hasn’t made it past the first round since 2005

The Wake Forest-Texas Storyline

The ninth-seeded Demon Deacons are back in the dance after last year’s first-round upset loss against Cleveland State, but they have no momentum as they have dropped five of their last six games, including a 21-point loss to Miami (the worst team in the ACC) in the first round of the ACC tourney.

There may not be a bigger disappointment in this year’s field than the eight-seeded Longhorns, who soared to No.1, then proceeded to go 7-9 in their last 16 games of the season. Texas was knocked out by Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals, but they have now reached the NCAA Tournament in all but two years since since 1989 (1993 and 1998). Last year’s trip ended up in a second-round loss to Duke.

Offensive Matchups

Wake Forest isn’t a long-range shooting team, and they’re powered by sophomore forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who was benched against Miami, and he was held scoreless at Florida State on March 3rd. Aminu was thought to be a lottery pick, and he may still be, but he’ll need a big performance to keep the skeptics quiet. The Demon Deacons also have senior guard Ishmael Smith, who has been solid down the stretch, but he can’t do it by himself, which means more shots for freshman guard C.J. Harris. But the Demon Deacons also turn the ball over a lot, there isn’t a lot of ball movement in the offense, and that could mean trouble

If there is one thing the Longhorns can do, it’s score, and Texas was seventh in the nation in points scored during the regular season. But the Longhorns have been hurt by their trio of freshman guards, Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton and J’Covan Brown, who combined to shoot 39.7% from the floor this year, and 34% from beyond the arc. These three hoist way too many unnecessary shots when the Longhorns can go to senior Damion James, who has been a stud all season. The Longhorns would also fare better if Dexter Pittman could stay on the floor for more than 20 minutes because of conditioning issues or foul trouble.

Betting Edge: Texas

Defensive Matchups

The Demon Deacons’ defense will be the key to their sportsbook odds, and they’re a very big team with Aminu, Tony Woods and Chas McFarland in the post. Wake Forest was 23rd in the country in blocked shots, and they also were ninth in both three-point and field-goal defense. But McFarland has been battling foul trouble lately, while Aminu just hasn’t been good. They’ll have to be better because James and Pittman have the potential to light up any frontcourt in the country.

The Longhorns also have a solid defense, and they’re one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Bradley has shown the ability to be an excellent defender on the perimeter, while the trio of James, Pittman and Gary Johnson prowl the post. On defense, the Longhorns’ biggest problem is foul trouble, especially for Pittman.

Betting Edge: Draw

Injuries

Neither team has any injury worries when it comes to this game, and that’s a good thing because these two don’t need any more problems.

Betting Edge: Draw

Betting Prediction: Wake Forest vs Texas Picks

The Longhorns are a 4-point favorite in this contest of underachieving teams, and they’ve lost two of their three meetings with the Demon Deacons, including a split of a home-and-home series back in 2004. Both teams are talented, but they haven’t shown any consistency this season, especially once they got to the conference portion of their schedule. Leadership is going to be a massive factor in this game as confidence isn’t exactly high, and most likely, it will be Smith for Wake Forest, and James for Texas, who will step up. The Longhorns’ young guards would do well to pound it inside to James

WASHINGTON’S Pick: Texas

Check out Washington’s weekly sports betting tips and article in BetOnline’s the Betting Edge.

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