Miami Hurricanes vs. Texas Longhorns Expert Pick
MIAMI HURRICANES VS. TEXAS LONGHORNS EXPERT PICK - The Midwest Regional final matches the strongest defense left in the tournament against the hottest offense remaining.
After barely escaping from Drake in the first round, Miami hit its stride and blazed by both Indiana and Houston, making the Hurricanes the only team to make it to the Elite Eight in consecutive years.
They’re facing a Texas defense that excels at taking away the thing that their opponents do best. The Longhorns have won all three games by squeezing the life out of their opponents and keeping them from making up for it at the foul line.
They had to go deep into their bench against Xavier after losing Dylan Disu to a foot injury, and they might have to play without him again this time around. But Texas proved versatile enough to control the game even with Disu on the bench, and the Longhorns have the shooters needed to keep Miami off-balance. If they can hit their shots, their defense should be enough to carry the day.
Miami vs. Texas In-Season Trends
It’s been a while since Texas failed to at least return a bet to its backers. The Longhorns have gone 5-0-1 ATS in Big 12 tournament and NCAA tournament play, and their last ATS loss came in February at Baylor. They’re an almost-perfect 7-0-1 ATS in March, and they ride a seven-game winning streak straight up.
They’ve also been a mostly reliable UNDER play in that stretch. The win over Xavier ended a seven-game UNDER streak for the Longhorns, and even that comes with an asterisk. With the game put away, the teams scored 11 points in the final 71 seconds to push the game over the total after Texas’ defense mostly did its job.
Miami has come up with three covers in three NCAA tournament games, including twice as the underdog. The Hurricanes scored a season-low 63 against Drake for their one under in the event, but they averaged 87 against Indiana and Houston after that escape. Miami has leaned toward the UNDER overall, going 16-18-1 on the total this season.
Miami’s still here because of Nijel Pack and Isaiah Wong. The Hurricane guards are strong shooters and excellent at getting to the free throw line, which saved their season against Drake in round one.
But getting good shots against Texas is difficult, and the Hurricanes lack both depth and size. Their starters mostly play 30 minutes, and Miami prefers a four-guard lineup to maximize its shooting and speed. That puts a lot of pressure on Norchad Omier inside, as he’ll be essentially by himself against Texas’ size.
Even if Disu can’t play, the Longhorns can meet and exceed Miami’s size with Timmy Allen and Christian Bishop. Bishop hadn’t played much in the first two rounds, but with Disu injured, he had to make himself a presence down low against Xavier.
But it’s Allen who should really concern the Hurricanes, for his defense more than his offense. Allen is a solid scoring threat, but he also possesses the ability to take a player out of his game at the other end. In the second round against Penn State, Allen held Jalen Pickett to 11 points and forced him into a season-high seven turnovers.
Texas’ defense makes opponents do things they don’t want to do, and one thing Miami wants to do is get to the foul line. The Longhorns likely won’t let it happen. Texas hasn’t allowed any of its NCAA tournament foes to get more than 12 looks from the stripe because of how well it plays clean defense.
That means Miami has to make shots and avoid turnovers, and the latter is a concern with the Hurricanes. They handled Houston’s defense well, but they gave it away 12 times against Indiana. That’s a problem against a Texas team with quick hands that will not beat itself. The Longhorns also excel at mid-range jumpers, something Miami really can’t stop. This game should be tight for most of the contest, but Texas should pull it out down the stretch.