Last Updated Mar 15, 2023, 6:44 PM

First Four: Texas Southern vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Picks, Predictions, Odds

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The Texas Southern Tigers and Fairleigh Dickinson Knights are probably the two worst teams in the NCAA Tournament. Texas Southern went 11-20 in the regular season and upset much better teams in Alcorn State and Grambling in the SWAC Tournament to make their third straight trip to the First Four of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tigers have won three straight First Four games, beating North Carolina Central in 2018, Mount St. Mary's in 2021, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last year, so they are short favorites by the college basketball betting odds against 19-15 Fairleigh Dickinson. The Knights played in the worst conference in the NCAA this season (the Northeast Conference), and they didn't even win the NEC Championship Game, losing to Merrimack who is ineligible to play in March Madness because the program is transitioning up from Division III.

On Wednesday, March 15, 2023, the Texas Southern Tigers will face the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights in the third First Four game. This game will tip of at 6:40 p.m. ET on truTV from UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The winner will go on to face No. 1 seed Purdue in the East Region.

The Tigers are 7-13 ATS in their last 20 games. (Getty)

Texas Southern Tigers vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights Betting Preview

This is going to be a tough game for Fairleigh Dickinson to win. The Knights are the smallest team in the country with an average height of 73.4 inches, and they have the third-worst defense in the country according to Ken Pomeroy. Their only hope is to force a lot of turnovers with their aggression on defense, and they are one of the top teams in that department, forcing turnovers on 21.4% of opponents' possessions. Texas Southern turns the ball over a lot with an average of 14.6 turnovers per game, so Fairleigh Dickinson could give them real trouble here. In the end, the Tigers' near four-inch advantage per player will be too much though.

Best Bet: Texas Southern -2 (-110)
Score Prediction: Texas Southern 75, Fairleigh Dickinson 68

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Texas Southern Tigers vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights Betting Odds

Texas Southern Tigers vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights Betting Resources

Date: Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2023
TV-Time: truTV, 6:40 p.m. ET
Venue: Dayton Arena
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Expert Picks

Texas Southern Tigers vs. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights Betting Stats

Texas Southern Tigers
SU: 14-20
ATS: 11-21
O/U: 14-18
PPG: 69.4
OPPG: 71.6

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
SU: 19-15

Straight Up (SU), Against the Spread (ATS), Over-Under (O/U)
Points Per Game (PPG), Opponents Points Per Game (OPPG)

Texas Southern Tigers Betting Analysis

The Tigers aren't a very efficient team on offense. They rank 336th nationally in effective field goal percentage, and they are one of the five worst teams at shooting the three. Texas Southern is making just 28.7% of its threes as a team, and the only Tiger that is shooting at a decent clip is P.J. Henry at 35.6%.

Look for Texas Southern to get the ball into the paint and the low post as much as possible. The Tigers have two 6'9 forwards in John Walker III and Joirdon Karl Nicholas, and they will tower over their counterparts. Fairleigh Dickinson's two tallest players are 6'6, and their next tallest player is 6'4. Walker is averaging 12.6 PPG and 4.2 RPG as the big man that plays away from the rim more, while Nicholas is averaging 10.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG as the forward that plays closer to the basket.

There is a real concern for Texas Southern late in the game, as the Tigers really struggle at the free throw line. Davion Barnes and P.J. Henry are both making at least 77% of their free throws, but only one other rotation player is shooting better than 69% from the charity stripe. Additionally, Nicholas and freshman guard Zytarious Mortle are making right around 50% of their free throws, and that's a major issue since both players are starters.

The Knights are 4-2 ATS in their last six games. (Getty)

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights Betting Analysis

Fairleigh Dickinson essentially runs a four-guard offense at all times due to the lack of size on the roster. Leading scorer Demetre Roberts is just 5'8, but he is averaging 16.7 PPG while making 42.6% of his field goals. Second leading scorer Grant Singleton is only an inch taller than Roberts at 5'9, and he is averaging 14.3 PPG while hitting 46.4% of his shots and 38.5% of his threes. Unsurprisingly, because of the lack of size, it's a rebound by committee effort for the Knights with no player averaging more than 5.0 RPG.

The good news for this offense is that they don't turn the ball over often, and they hit their free throws. Singleton is one of the best free throw shooters in the country, making 91.2% of his freebies, and Ansley Almonor is sinking 86.2% of his free throws. However, they don't get to the charity stripe often, as the Knights don't draw a lot of contact.

This defense is an absolute mess, and Purdue might score over 100 points on Fairleigh Dickinson if the Knights can get past Texas Southern. Fairleigh Dickinson ranks in the bottom ten nationally in effective field goal percentage and two-point defense, and the Knights don't block many shots due to their lack of size. Sean Moore and Singleton do a decent job forcing turnovers, and that will be the key for FDU here.

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