No. 16 Texas Southern vs No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s First Four

No. 16 Texas Southern vs No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s First Four | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on March 16, 2021

No. 16 Texas Southern and No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s tip of the NCAA Tournament’s First Four on Thursday with Texas Southern a slight favorite on the NCAAB odds. The winner will then be a massive underdog vs. No. 1 Michigan on Saturday.

How to Bet Texas Southern vs. Mount St. Mary’s NCAA Basketball Odds & TV InfoLast MeetingIt’s the first time these schools have met in men’s basketball.Why Bet on Texas Southern? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

One of seven Lone Star State teams in the field (most in state history), Johnny Jones’ Texas Southern group represents the SWAC and is in the field for the ninth time in school history. The Tigers have won 14 of 15, doing so by grabbing a league-best 33.5% of their offensive-rebound opportunities.

Texas Southern has lost just one of its past 15 games. Seven of those victories include double-digit margins for the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament champion. Michael Weathers (16.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.2 SPG) is a 6-3 guard who finished with 13 points in a nonconference loss to Oklahoma State, his former school.

The Tigers (16-8) were third in the SWAC regular-season standings but then rolled to the conference tournament, upsetting Prairie View A&M in the final 80-61. There were seven lead changes and six ties early but the Tigers broke things open late in the first half. Jordan Gilliam snapped a 22-22 tie with a jumper at the 5:08 mark, kicking off a 14-6 closing run into halftime. With no time remaining in the first half, Hopkins was fouled and hit three free throws for a 36-28 halftime lead. Gilliam opened the second half with a trey and sparked a 9-0 run to up its lead to 45-36. The Tigers would continue their dominance on both ends.

Five players scored in double figures led by Karl Nicholas’ double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. Gilliam and Justin Hopkins each scored 15 points for the third-seeded Tigers, Weathers added 13 and John Walker III 10. Texas Southern shot 51 percent overall (29 of 57), adding 19-of-27 at the free-throw line. In addition to SWAC Tournament MVP honors, Weathers was named to the all-tournament team along with Nicholas.

Why Bet on Mount St. Mary’s? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The NEC champs aren’t that unfamiliar with the Big Dance; they last made it in 2017. This is their sixth trip, and they’ve twice won First Four matchups. Dan Engelstad’s team has good size for a low-major group.

The Mountaineers’ best chance to pull off an upset? Protecting the rim the way they did throughout the season. Opponents made just 39.7% of their shots when the Mount played man-to-man defense. And anything seems possible with star Damian Chong Qui (15.1 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.2 RPG). His talent and perseverance carried this team to the Northeast Conference tournament title.

Mount St. Mary’s (12-10) earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament by defeating Bryant, 73-68, on the road in the NEC Championship game. Tournament most valuable player Nana Opoku had 18 points, seven rebounds and five blocks while Qui added 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the win.  The Mount, the top defensive team in the NEC, held Bryant to 38.5 percent shooting in the game while holding a 46-34 edge on the boards and blocking a season-high 10 shots.

The Mount won its third NEC Championship as the tournament’s No. 4 seed, joining the 2008 and 2014 teams.  This is the Mount’s sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, joining teams from 1995, 1999, 2008, 2014 and 2017.  Mount St. Mary’s is 2-5 in five previous trips to the NCAA postseason with both wins occurring in Opening Round or First Four stages.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the Mountaineers and Tigers, which sent associate head coach Will Holland and assistant coaches Matt Miller and Matt Graves scrambling to find film of Texas Southern even before the NCAA selection show on television had ended.

Game Trends
  • Tigers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win.
  • Tigers are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 neutral site games.
  • Tigers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games as a favorite.
  • Mountaineers are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Mountaineers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games as an underdog.
Expert Prediction
  • Mount St. Mary’s 67, Texas Southern 64

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