If the two most exciting words in college basketball world are March Madness, then the two least exciting words are, final’s week. This week, all of the kids were forced to be in the classroom rather than on the court, and we had very little action because of it. But now that all of the tests are done, we can get right back to our regularly scheduled college basketball slate as many of the nation’s top teams are playing today. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Utah for a showdown for bragging rights in the Beehive State!
- BYU Cougars (8-4) at Utah State Aggies (10-1)
- Home Arena, Salt Lake City
- 5:00 PM PST
- TV: BYUTV
The state of Utah has the best set of basketball teams that they have had in a long time this season. Utah State, BYU, and Utah all have legit squads that could hear their names called on Selection Sunday this year, heck, even lowly Utah Valley, while not being a great team, nearly knocked off the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington earlier this season. It has been a coming out party for Utah basketball so far this year, and tonight, we will see a showdown of two of the best, when BYU and Utah State matchup on a neutral floor.
You can split this BYU season into two parts, the pre-Yoeli Childs season, and the post-Yoeli Childs season. Childs missed the first nine games after being suspended for a paperwork error and without him, the Cougars went 6-3. While they were a decent team without their star player on the floor, they are much better with him.
Since his return, Childs has more than lived up to the hype, and the +/- when he is on the floor has been outrageous. While the Cougars did lose their first game with Childs back on the team, it wasn’t really his fault. In that game, the Cougars were blowing out the Utah Utes by sixteen points in the second half, before losing Childs to muscle cramps for the rest of the game and blowing that huge lead, eventually losing in overtime.
In the last two games, the Cougars have gone 2-0 with an average margin of victory of thirty-three points. Childs is going for nineteen points and eleven boards a game in just twenty-five minutes per contest. If the Cougars can keep this up, they could find there way back into the NCAA tournament this season, playing in a much better than most people think WCC.
Utah State Aggies
The Aggies of Utah State started the season out ranked in the top twenty-five nationally, and I still think they are one of the best teams in the country. The lone loss came at St. Mary’s, a place that is notoriously hard to win for visiting teams. That’s why you will never see a major power five school ever schedule to play there in the non-conference.
So, I am not going to beat them up too much for not being able to win in Moraga. The reason that no one is quite sure how to rate this team right now is that they have played a very soft schedule. The SOS for the Aggies currently sits at 332nd on kenpom. They do have a nice win over LSU on a neutral floor, but we haven’t really gotten to see this team play much high-level competition just yet.
The Aggies run and gun on offense, as they have one of the fastest average possession lengths on offense in the country. But on defense, they defend hard, and they force teams to use the entire shot clock to get shots, as they are ranked 338th in defensive tempo. Normally teams that like to play fast of offensive are content going shot for shot and trying to outpoint you, not the Aggies. They play hard on both sides of the ball, and you aren’t going to get a lot of easy shots off against them.
Who Do I Like?
This is a really fun game. I always love to highlight the mid-major programs on my daily picks. I do that for two main reasons. One, I don’t feel like programs like these get nearly enough attention from the media, and two, because there tends to be a lot of value betting these smaller schools, as the general betting public doesn’t have as big of an effect on moving the lines.
As a general rule, the sharp bettors bet early and big. When the books post a bad number, they hammer it quickly and hard. That is what happened in this one when the Cougars opened as -2-point favorites. The sharps, including myself, jumped all over it last night and took the Aggies getting points. That swayed the number a lot, as the Aggies are now favored.
If this were a major power five conference game, it would be hard to tell if it was sharp money moving the number, or if it was a bunch of square money influencing the line. But as this is a matchup between teams from the WAC and the WCC, you can be sure that all the action has been coming from the sharps.
This is a classic spot that us in the industry call, right side, wrong number. The best bet to be made on this game was Utah State +2. But that opportunity has passed. The sharps hammered it, and now we have to choose whether we want to take the Aggies as favorites, switch sides, or lay off. And while it is not nearly as juicy as it once was, the value still lies on backing Utah State, and we will have to settle for a bad number.
The game will be competitive, and I would expect high scoring. But in the end, I think the Aggies pressure defense forces BYU into too many bad shots, something they have been prone to taking anyway, and I don’t see BYU being able to hang with Utah State if this turns into a shootout. Don’t let the fact that Utah State hasn’t really beaten anybody good yet, fool you into thinking they can’t! Give me the Utah State Aggies -1-point tonight!