I know it might feel a little early, but several leagues kick off their conference play schedule’s this week. Despite most teams only having played just a couple of games, many leagues are jumping right into league play. The PAC-12 has league games scheduled today between Cal and Arizona State, as well as Washington versus Utah. In the Big Sky, we have games between Montana and Southern Utah, Idaho and Sacramento State, and Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona all on the docket for this evening.
While the west coast teams are jumping right into conference play, most of the other teams are still battling things out in the non-conference. The highlights on the schedule today in non-conference play include top-25 teams in action like Iowa, Kansas, and Virginia Tech, as well as competitive matchups between Florida and Boston College, UCONN and USC, and Marshall and Wright State. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to Haas Pavilion on the campus of California university for the Bears game against the Arizona State Sun Devils.
- Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1) at Cal Bears (2-1)
- Haas Pavilion, Berkeley
- 8:00 PM PST
- TV: PACN
The Cal Bears open up their PAC-12 league play homecourt schedule tonight as they host the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Bears have already played one league game this year, losing to the Oregon State Beavers on the road in their season opener. Cal is expected to finish near the bottom of the PAC-12 standings this season, but Bears fans are hoping they can remain competitive at home, where they went 6-3 last season.
#Pac12AfterDark is back.
— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) December 3, 2020
For Arizona State, the Sun Devils are ranked in the top-25 nationally and are many people’s pick to win the PAC-12 this season. The Sun Devils dropped a hard-fought game to 3rd ranked Villanova last week but do have a nice top-100 win over Rhode Island already on their resume. The Sun Devils were one of the rare teams to win at Haas Pavilion last year and they are hoping to leave Berkeley with a win again tonight in their first conference game of the season.
Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1)
This is likely the best team Bobby Hurley has ever had in Tempe. They have one of the top point guards in the country in superstar Remy Martin, and they brought in a couple of highly recruited impact freshmen to surround him with. While the Sun Devils couldn’t hang with Villanova, I still see them as the most talented team in the PAC-12 this season. The Sun Devils rebounded from losing to the Wildcats by dropping a C-Note on the painfully overmatched Houston Baptist Huskies in their last game.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 30, 2020
People expected big things out of Josh Christopher this season, and the freshman has not disappointed. Christopher has scored double-digit points in each of his three games this season and dropped 28 against Villanova and their swarming pressure defense. Christopher has been on fire in his last two games, shooting the lights out to the tune of 45 points on 19-28 shooting from the field, good for 68% and earned the PAC-12 freshman of the week award for his efforts.
Cal Bears (2-1)
The Cal Bears aren’t going to be a very good basketball team this season. Anything better than a last-place finish in the PAC-12 will be reason to celebrate in Berkeley. But that is nothing new for Cal as the Bears are always pretty bad. Head coach Mark Fox plays a painfully slow and ugly brand of basketball, that couldn’t be further from Bobby Hurley’s flashy program in Tempe.
What Fox did do a decent job of doing, though, last year in his first year with the team, was winning games at home. The Bears went 6-3 in Haas Pavilion, which was significantly better than the 1-8 they were on the road in conference play.
But when you look at who they beat, it was mostly the out of contention cellar-dwellers of what was a down league. The only team they beat at home that was a likely NCAA tournament team was Colorado. Against the top half of the league, teams like Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon, they went 0-3 at Haas Pavilion.
Who Do I Like?
Home dogs in league play are always a favorite play of the sharps. When Cal opened up, getting +7.5-points in this matchup, the early betting sharps hammered it. But as is usually the case, once Joe public started to get in on the action, they didn’t realize that too much of a good thing might not always be a good thing. The public moved this line all the way to Arizona State -5.5-points, and I think they went too far.
These teams are a total mismatch on the floor. Cal will try and slow things down and dictate the pace, whereas Arizona State will be looking to run and gun and run up the score on the outmanned Bears. I see Arizona State getting the best of this and finding a way to make Cal play faster than they want to, and if that ends up being the case, this game could get out of hand.
These early conference games with no, or limited, fans in attendance, are going to go a long way into deciding how I bet league play underdogs this season. Normally I love me some home dogs, particularly in league play. But this year, we have already seen several huge home upsets, and homecourt advantage just doesn’t feel the same without fans. Duke lost at Cameron Indoor, Kansas lost at the Phog, and Kentucky lost at Rupp.
If those powerhouse programs can lose at home, I am certain that the Cal Bears can lose at home. I will take advantage of this underpriced line and back the Sun Devils tonight. I very rarely make plays like this, where I lay wood on the road in conference play, but with no fans in the stands in Berkeley, I think the Sun Devils just might run the Bears out of their own building. Give me the Arizona State Sun Devils laying -5.5-points tonight against Cal!