The Orange (20-13) barely made it into the 2018 March Madness field. They then beat Arizona State 60-56 in a play-in game to arrive here.
TCU began the year with a 12-game winning streak. But they had an up-and-down Big 12 slate that resulted in a 9-9 conference record. The good news for the Horned Frogs (21-11), though, is that they never had to worry about getting selected for the field.
No. 11 and No. 6 matchups are always tricky from a betting perspective. That said, I’ll break down the odds and discuss both team’s chances of covering in this game.
Syracuse vs. TCU Odds (Friday, March 16 at 9:40pm)
- Syracuse +4 (-110) / +165 moneyline
- TCU – 4 (-110) / -185 moneyline
- Over/under 136.5
- Odds from GTBets.eu
Why Syracuse will Cover
The Orange are regarded as the last team to earn a selection bid. They beat out fellow bubble schools Oklahoma State and Notre Dame to make the Big Dance. And Syracuse has somewhat justified their inclusion by beating Arizona State. But another win would undoubtedly validate them being here.
Their losses to 11-20 Wake Forest and 13-19 Georgia Tech are particularly ugly. And their ACC tournament run ended in the second round with a 78-59 blowout loss to North Carolina. That said, you never know what the Orange will bring to the court.
Tyus Battle averages 19 PPG and can come through in the clutch. But as a team, the Orange only score 67.5 PPG and shoot 41.8% from the field. This goes a long way to explaining their inconsistencies.
What Syracuse does do well is defend. They hold opponents to just 64.5 PPG and 39.6% shooting. This strong defense can keep them in almost any game, regardless of how they’re shooting. Expect Syracuse to do their best to make this an ugly and low-scoring scoring affair.
Why TCU will Cover
The Horned Frogs looked like a bonafide title contender in running off 12 victories to open the year. But conference play was mired by a number of losing and winning streaks.
Of course, some of this was attributed to bad luck. TCU had a three-game losing streak in early January, where they lost to Kansas by 4, Texas by 1 in double overtime, and Oklahoma by 5 in overtime. Had things went differently in a couple of these contests, the Frogs might be facing a No. 13 or No. 14 seed in the first round.
TCU’s best attribute is their offensive efficiency since they rank eighth in the nation. They have five players scoring in double figures and share the ball very well. Forward Vladimir Brodziansky leads this balanced attack with 15.1 PPG.
What the Horned Frogs don’t do well is play on the road. They went just 4-7 away from home and have lost three of their last four away contests. It’s also worth adding that their 12-game win streak came in part because these were all home games.
The challenge for them will be performing well on neutral courts during the tournament.
Prediction on Syracuse vs. TCU
Good defense can always help you win games. And this is why Syracuse can’t be counted out in this one. However, the Orange have had their biggest struggles against teams that are efficient on offense. In fact, they’re 0-9 against teams that rank within the top 30 in offensive efficiency.
TCU will be looking to deliver the 10th such loss. The Frogs aren’t perfect, especially when they go on the road. But I like them to win this contest by 6-7 points.
Final score prediction: TCU wins 74-67 and covers their -4 spread.