What was supposed to be the matchup of the century, of the year, was just canceled this morning, as the game between top ranked Gonzaga, and second ranked Baylor, was put on hold due to Corona Virus concerns. Both of those teams have looked basically unbeatable so far this season, and I hate that we are going to get cheated out of such a stellar matchup. But what can you do, 2020 has been a brutal year, and this is just another gut punch in a year filled with a long line of gut punches.
Joint statement from Gonzaga and Baylor basketball programs. pic.twitter.com/m3DHN0ZrRB
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) December 5, 2020
But even without seeing the Zags and the Bears square off, we still have an exciting slate of college hoops action on the docket for today. In total, there are 56 games on the schedule, with top-25 teams Kanas and Houston both in action. Arizona hosts a much better than people realize Eastern Washington Eagles team in a game where the Wildcats are going to be on upset alert. SMU and Dayton meet up in Ohio, in a game where both teams are undefeated and playing well.
Other fun matchups today include Montana at Southern Utah, Santa Clara and New Mexico State, and BYU and Utah State. For our free daily betting pick, we will head to Logan, Utah, where the Aggies of Utah State host the BYU Cougars in a battle for the title of the best team in the Beehive State!
- BYU Cougars (4-1) at Utah State Aggies (1-2)
- Spectrum, Logan
- 6:00 PM PST
- TV: N/A
The Utah State Aggies host the BYU Cougars in a battle between two of the best programs on the West Coast. While the Cougars tend to get much of the national media attention in Utah, it is the Aggies that have been the more consistent team in the last couple of seasons. Utah State won the Mountain West Conference tournament in each of the last two seasons to earn their dancing shoes and are hoping to make it three straight MWC titles this season.
HOW TO WATCH | Utah State vs BYU
Fans can watch the game live on the MW Digital Network, online at https://t.co/KztXIwAx8d, on the Utah State Athletics Facebook page, or by downloading the official Utah State Athletics app.
— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) December 4, 2020
For BYU, they had a real shot at making a deep run into the NCAA tournament last season, as they had one of the best teams in program history and a roster full of seniors. But sadly, those seniors never got a chance to shine in March, and this year, the Cougars are trying to stay relevant with a team full of newcomers. BYU is 4-1 to start the year and would love a non-conference win over their in-state rival Aggies tonight on the road.
BYU Cougars (4-1)
I can’t quite put my finger on just how good this BYU Cougars team is this season. With the loss of guys like Yoeli Childs, Jake Toolson, and TJ Haws, they have a lot of scoring production to replace. The Cougars brought in a slew of transfers, including robbing nearby Utah Valley of three of their best players and bringing in former Purdue big man Matthew Haarms. The new guys surround senior leader Alex Barcello, to give the Cougars one of the more talented rosters in the WCC.
Barcello has been just as good as the Cougars hoped he would be, as one of the few returning players from last year’s team that went 24-8. Barcello played a small role in the Cougars scoring attack last year as he scored just 9-points a game. This year, his production has gone into overdrive, as he is averaging 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists a game. He is shooting an absolutely bonkers 61% from three-point land, and if he keeps this up, he could challenge for first-team all-WCC honors.
Utah State Aggies (1-2)
Craig Smith is one of the best unknown coaches in the nation right now. This guy managed to turn South Dakota into a powerhouse in the Summit League, and in his first two years running the Utah State program, he has averaged 27-wins a season and won the MWC tournament in both years. The Aggies are going to be down this year, as they lost superstar Sam Merrill, but this guy is just too good of a coach not to hang with the best the Mountain West has to offer.
The Aggies lost their first two games of the season to VCU and South Dakota State, and while those aren’t top-25 teams this year, they are both solidly in the top-100 nationally, and those aren’t going to be overly bad losses on the Aggies resume on Selection Sunday. Utah State battled back to win their last game against Northern Iowa, a team that many expect to compete with Loyola-Chicago for the Missouri Valley regular-season title.
Who Do I Like?
We talked about how Craig Smith is a very underrated coach, and one place that he nearly always takes care of business, is at home. No coach in division one has done a better job than Smith in protecting his home floor in the last four years. Last year, the Aggies lost just one home game, and that came to a San Diego State team that went 28-1 in the regular season. The year before, Utah State again lost just one home game all year long.
Going back to his time with South Dakota in 2018, Smith led the Coyotes to a 13-1 regular season homecourt record, and in 2017, SDU was again 13-1 on their home floor. This guy is averaging just one loss a YEAR, when he is coaching at home. That is an insane run of homecourt excellence that just can’t be ignored.
This line opened up with Utah State laying -3-points. That seemed reasonable, considering the Aggies recent run of success at home. Kenpom had the Aggies winning by three, so the number was spot on. But then the public got ahold of it, and they have been hammering on BYU all morning long. This line has now moved a whooping 4-points, to where it stands now, with the Cougars as -1-point favorites.
I get it, BYU has looked decent this year, and Utah State has struggled. But a 4-point line move going against one of the best homecourt teams in the nation, just doesn’t make any sense. The Aggies are just too good at home, and Craig Smith is just too good of a coach, not to like Utah State as home underdogs. So, I will just play the numbers game in this one and back the home team.
I don’t have an overly strong opinion on how this game will play out, outside of the fact that kenpom says Utah State is going to win by a full possession’s worth of points, and I can back them getting a point because the public loves to overreact. In a spot where I can choose which side to be on, I am taking the data’s side over the public’s, every single time. Give me the Utah State Aggies as home dogs tonight, getting a point as they “upset” the BYU Cougars!