Brigham Young Cougars (12-3) at San Francisco Dons (9-6)
Last night our winning streak officially came to an end as we backed the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels on the road against Florida State. The game was a fierce battle throughout and the Heels had a couple good looks to win the game at the end but came up short 80-81. It was a big win for the Seminoles, and they will now have to be mentioned in any conversation where you talk about elite ACC teams this year. Today we will shift gears and head way out west to zero in on a matchup of two West Coast Conference teams, the Cougars of BYU and the Dons of San Francisco.
The BYU Cougars will travel to San Francisco to play the Dons in a West Coast Conference matchup. BYU finds itself towards the top of the standings in a resurgent WCC this year. They are 12-3 but already lost one league game to Saint Mary’s College, so they can ill afford to drop this game tonight. The Dons will look to protect their home floor and fall just behind the Cougars in the WCC standings at 9-6. BYU is a -1-point road favorite. The game total over-under is set at 134.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 PM PST from Memorial Gymnasium in San Francisco.
The West Coast Conference has been a one or two bid league, at the most, over the past fifteen or so years. The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been the mainstay on the conference, having made the NCAA tournament 18 consecutive years, but the conference has been able to build around the Zags success, and they are a legit multi-bid league this year.
Gonzaga is ranked as usual, and the Gales of Saint Mary’s College have managed to be in and out of the rankings this year as well and have a stellar record at 13-2. Next, in conference, we have San Diego and BYU. Both of these teams are a bit of a surprise this season as many didn’t expect them to compete for the WCC title, but at a combined 23-6 record they are looking like legit threats to the crown.
BYU has a solid record but needs to win these types of games against lower-end competition. They have played a tough schedule but most of the good teams they have played, have beat them. Losses to Alabama, Texas-Arlington, and Saint Mary’s aren’t bad losses, but they need some good wins.
They did pick up a nice win against Utah, but that is all that is really on the Cougars resume at this point, and they will need a couple more signature wins if they want to be considered as an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.
The Cougars are led by forward Yoeli Childs. Childs is averaging 18 points and 9 boards a game and has a big, NBA style body. The second-year player has seen his production nearly double over last season and is a legit threat for the WCC player of the year award. He has really turned up the pressure since the start of WCC play as he has averaged over 27 points a game in league play. The Cougars will need a similar level of effort tonight from Childs if they want to win a road game in conference.
The San Francisco Dons are an enigma of a team this year. They can’t score the ball, averaging just 69 points a game on the season. They don’t shoot the ball well from inside, 40% as a team in field goal percentage, or outside, 31% from beyond the arc. They don’t pass well and they turnover the ball a lot. Yet, they somehow manage to beat teams.
Now to be fair the Dons don’t have a single top 50 RPI win this season, so it’s not like they are beating good teams, but the fact that they are several games over .500 even though they can do almost nothing on the offensive end of the court is shocking. All the advanced metrics tell me this team should stink, yet they are a respectable 9-6 on the season.
Conference road games are the toughest games teams play all year. They are the biggest trap games for bettors as well. On a neutral floor, BYU could be 6-8 points better than San Francisco, but this isn’t a neutral floor. They must go on the road, and these games are just always closer than most people think they will be.
That being said I think this is still a bad number. The line opened at BYU -1 and quickly shifted to BYU -1.5, and I expect it to keep moving in that direction. The Dons have managed to sneak away with some wins against some very poor competition, but BYU is a solid squad that could very easily find itself playing meaningful games in March. I think tonight is where the magic ends for San Francisco.
They just don’t have the roster to really compete with a team like BYU. I expect Childs to drop thirty plus points on them as I don’t see anyone on that roster that is going to be able to slow him down. The game will be closer than it probably should be, as these conference games always are, but I see the Cougars never being in too much trouble and winning this game by 8-10 points.
Give me the BYU Cougars tonight on the road laying a point and a half.