Texas Vs. Abilene Christian: Odds, Picks, And Predictions

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It’s 217 miles from Austin to Abilene. If that isn’t the title of a hit 1960s song by George Hamilton IV, it oughta be. Hamilton put Abilene on the map in 1963, when his “Abilene” spent four weeks atop Billboard’s country chart.

He crooned about Abilene being the prettiest town he’d ever seen, that “women there don’t treat you mean.” View it on YouTube and it’ll spend the rest of the day in your noggin.

Enough daydreaming.

Until now, Abilene (23-4), which has never played Texas, has only been able to fantasize about this college hoops showdown. This is only the biggest game in the history of a program that regained Division-I status in 2018-19, after a 45-year absence.

Our source in the Lone Star State, who is an ace at NCAA basketball betting, lays out a blueprint.

“Abilene Christian is going to be stoked to be facing the state’s flagship university, and the Wildcats are sneaky good,” he says. “This could be a first-round shocker.”

  • Texas -9 vs. Abilene Christian, Total 140, Saturday, 9:50 pm ET
  • Action: Abilene Christian +9 and Over 140

The Longhorns (19-7) have the most-experienced roster in the game, and their preseason title odds of 80-to-1 (which I nabbed and whose principal I more than doubled on PropSwap) have been sliced to about 25-1.

William HillPoint SpreadMoneylineTotals
Texas-9 (-110)-450O 140 (-110)
Abilene Christian+9 (-110)+350U 140 (-110)

The Horns have scored at least 75 points in 12 of their past 13 games, averaging 82 points in that stretch.

Abilene Christian to win it all? Try 3,000-to-1 at one shop. This, though, is a kind of title game for it. In its past 21, Abilene has tallied at least 72 points on 18 occasions. In those 21 games, it’s averaged 81 points.

Mix in the excitement and adrenaline, and the fact that Abilene will want to play at a faster pace, and the recipe is set for high drama.

Anyone for double, or triple, overtime?

Give Up Or Compete

Abilene went to the NCAAs for the first time in 2019, when it got doused by Kentucky, 79-44, in Jacksonville, Fla. Coach Joe Golding was the recipient of that thrashing, but he’s been through worse times.

He played at Abilene, but had his full-ride scholarship yanked as a senior in 1997-98. To finish his education, he took out loans, for which he finally finished paying in January 2020.

“There’s two ways to go right there, you can either make excuses and give up, or you can compete,” he told The Optimist, the school paper. And in 2014-15, he was the defending Southland Conference coach of the year when the team went 10-21.

Fearing for his gig, the Abilene administration instead stuck with him, giving him time to learn how to polish his craft and build the program. And here are the Wildcats, playing in the game of their lives.

The Paint And Perimeter

Abilene somewhat relies on the 7-foot, 240-pound Kolton Kohl (12.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg), a senior from San Angelo, Texas, about an hour drive south of Abilene.

The lefty shoots 55.7% from the field, and he’s adept with the other paw, too. He rates in several categories on a national level, and his moves are a highlight in post-game locker-room victory dances.

He gets help in the paint from junior forward Joe Pleasant (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg), senior guard Reggie Miller (6.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.4 apg), sophomore forward Airion Simmons (6.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and junior forward Clay Gayman (8.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

Getting obliterated on the boards by Kentucky must have embarrassed Kohl, Pleasant and Gayman, reserves in that game whose sour memories should reinforce what will be required against Texas.

At 41.4%, senior guard Coryon Mason (10.7 ppg) is Abilene’s best 3-point shooter. It hits 37.7% of its 3-point attempts as a team, which is 21st in the nation and trumps the above-average Texas perimeter defense (32.3%).

Defense Doesn’t Rest

Miller and 5-7 junior guard Damien Daniels (who started against Kentucky and went 0-for-5 from the field) are the pesky defenders who set the tone for Abilene’s defensive turnover rate of 26.7%, tops in the game.

Its effective field-goal percentage defense is 45.4%, tied for fifth-lowest among teams in this tournament.

And Texas might be surprised beyond the arc, where it shoots an above-average 35.6%; Abilene’s top-13 perimeter defense snuffs opponents, at 29.1%.

Inspirational

Texas is talented, but junior swingman Andrew Jones, diagnosed with leukemia in January 2018, is exceptional. He spent more than a month in the hospital and completed chemotherapy treatment seven months later.

He started 25 games this season, averaging 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, making 82.7% of his free throws. His game-winning 3-point shot to beat West Virginia in early January made all the highlight shows.

Brown Must Produce

Horns freshman forward Greg Brown (9.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg), though, is mystifying. He allows foes and officials into his psyche, and vanishes. In the past two Horns games, he’s logged only 19 total minutes.

He has scored a mere 15 total points in his previous four games. This from a guy who pelted Oklahoma State with 24 points and 14 rebounds, vital in a three-point victory.

“He’s 18 years old,” teammate Jase Febres told reporters after a recent game. “I’ve been in his shoes before. We’ve just got to continue to help him.”

Senior guard Matt Coleman III averages an ironman-like 35 minutes, 13.4 points and 4.1 assists. He went for a career-best 30 points in a 91-86 victory over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tourney finale.

Senior center Jericho Sims (15 ppg, 10 rpg in his past four games) has also been a solid complement lately.

We envisage an electric duel in which Abilene scrapes to cover but falls just short of a shock victory.

About the Author
Rob Miech

Rob Miech

Rob Miech is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today, covering soccer and producing sports betting features. He has written about college hoops for the Las Vegas Sun, CBS SportsLine and the Pasadena Star-News. He is the author of four books, including Sports Betting for Winners.

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