The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns take on the Texas Longhorns. Check out our college basketball odds series for our Louisiana Texas prediction and pick.

The Texas Longhorns have had their season disrupted by a big, dark, black cloud. Head coach Chris Beard was arrested on Monday, Dec. 12, for “assault on a family/household member,” by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. Beard was booked on a third-degree felony. Assistant coach Rodney Terry is the acting head coach in Beard’s absence.

It is very likely that Beard has coached his last game at the school. That point aside, we have a situation in which a group of players thought it had a head coach in place. Then something very serious — and much more important than basketball — occurred which completely derailed the normal run of operations and the everyday routines of athletes who signed on to play for that head coach. It’s not enjoyable or interesting to speculate about how young athletes will respond to a very difficult set of off-court events which inevitably affects them and how they perform. Yet, it’s impossible to avoid that conversation.

Texas, in its first game without Beard a week ago, struggled against Rice at home and was fortunate to win in overtime. Texas then played a mediocre game this past Sunday. It handled a not-very-good Stanford team but did not blow out the Cardinal. Stanford has had a terrible season, and while Texas had a modest working margin (at least eight or nine points) for much of the second half in that game this past Sunday in Dallas, it never could fully pull away. If Texas, a team which has defeated Gonzaga and Creighton this season, is playing at or near full capacity and efficiency, it would beat Stanford by 25 points. It is simply undeniable that the Longhorns are struggling. It’s hard to avoid the reality that not having Chris Beard has affected this team to a certain degree.

Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Louisiana-Texas College Basketball odds.

College Basketball Odds: Louisiana-Texas Odds

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns: +17.5 (-104)

Texas Longhorns: -17.5 (-118)

Over: 140.5 (-114)

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Under: 140.5 (-106)

Why Louisiana Could Cover the Spread

The Ragin’ Cajuns know that Texas has not played all that well in recent weeks. Even before Chris Beard got in trouble with the law, Texas blew a five-point lead late in regulation against Illinois in New York and fell to the Illini. Texas was so good and so crisp against Gonzaga. That performance now seems like a distant memory, given how the Longhorns have performed in the first few weeks of December. Rodney Terry faces a very difficult situation in trying to get his players to play with maximum focus, energy and enthusiasm. It’s human nature to be depressed after something happens akin to what has just transpired with Chris Beard. It’s an ugly, dark, very serious situation which has cast a pall over this Texas season. It is natural and logical to think that Texas will continue to struggle in the face of this problem, which — again — transcends basketball.

Why Texas Could Cover the Spread

The Longhorns have a team which routed Gonzaga earlier this season. They certainly have the talent to blow the doors off Louisiana. Texas has absorbed the initial shock and disgust of this story. After more than a week of digesting this development, the Longhorns could be ready to play without a sense of burden, of sadness, of anger at something off the basketball court which has undeniably affected the flow and development of this team’s season. We can sit here and talk about matchups and specific Xs and Os, but we all know that what matters most in this game is how mentally fresh and focused the Longhorns are. If they’re fully ready to play, they’ll dominate.

Final Louisiana-Texas Prediction & Pick

Texas has things on its mind other than basketball. You should stay away from this game because of the speculative nature of what might happen. Guessing how “ready” the Longhorns are to play is a fool’s errand. Just pass on this one and look at games not clouded by off-court stories.

Final Louisiana-Texas Prediction & Pick: Louisiana +17.5