NCAA Tournament 1st Round ACU vs. Texas Free Pick

NCAAB Free Pick | ACU vs. Texas

The beauty of the NCAA tournament is the thrill of watching an underdog upset a higher seeded team. Most of the upsets occur in the first round and a potential one lurks in the East Region where No. 14 Abilene Christian takes on No. 3 Texas. Which way will we go with this weekend’s free pick?

The Wildcats won the Southland Conference tournament and finished 23-4 on the season.It’s not so much that ACU won 23 games this season. It’s how they won them and that is the key for bettors looking at this matchup.

Game: Abilene Christian Wildcats (23-4, 16-6 ATS) vs. Texas Longhorns (19-7, 12-13-1 ATS)

When: 9:50 PM ET, Saturday, March 20, 2021

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

Current Line: TEX -9 Total: 140.5

TV Coverage: truTV

Tough Schedule

Texas prepped for the tournament by navigating an absolutely murderous Big 12 schedule. The conference had seven teams that were ranked throughout the season.

The Longhorns beat Kansas twice for the first time since the Big 12 went to a round-robin regular season schedule. Texas also suffered some close losses like those to Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Oklahoma.

Head coach Shaka Smart has Texas playing its best basketball in years. The foundation, of course, is defense. The Longhorns hold opponents to 68 points a game and rank in the top third of the country in defensive efficiency.

Our last pick also featured the Longhorns. Take a look at our Texas at Texas Tech free pick.

Holding Their Own

While that’s impressive, Abilene Christian is even better. The Wildcats rank No. 1 in the nation in defensive efficiency. They are 10th in points allowed, giving up 61.7 per game.

Where ACU really shines is in creating turnovers. The Wildcats defense forces over 19 turnovers per game. That number is also No. 1 in the country.

In the Southland Conference championship game, Abilene Christian took on Nicholls which had the best regular season record in the conference. The Wildcats completely dominated the Colonels in a 79-45 victory.

The knock on the Wildcats is that they haven’t really played anybody. That’s not entirely true as ACU did face Texas Tech when the Red Raiders were ranked No. 17. The Wildcats lost 51-44.

Abilene Christian also played Arkansas early in the season before the Razorbacks were ranked. ACU shot poorly from long-range (22.6 percent) and lost 85-72.

The reason why bettors should consider backing Abilene Christian in this matchup is simple. They have the perfect recipe of a Cinderella that can pull at least one upset.

ACU vs. Texas Free Pick

Lower-seeded teams that win in Round 1 (and even Round 2) are usually teams with a few common characteristics. They are teams that have a balance between strong offensive and defensive efficiency ratings. Cinderellas are also strong three-point field goal defenders.

Upsets are usually pulled by teams that also force a lot of turnovers while not turning the ball over themselves. Abilene Christian fits the mold of a March Madness Cinderella. 

With the point spread at -9 at online sportsbook in favor of the Longhorns, bettors should be jumping all over the Wildcats to cover. Their defense should keep this one close and even give them a chance to pull the upset.

ACU vs. Texas Free Pick:  ABILENE CHRISTIAN +9

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