St. Mary’s Gaels at BYU Cougars NCAAM Pick – March 9, 2020

The month of March has been very good to us, so it is hard to complain about one bad beat when we have been winning nearly 80% of our bets this month, but I am going to do it anyway! Yesterday, we backed the Illinois Fighting Illini, laying -3.5-points against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

This was a standard home court play in a Big 10 that has been dominated by home teams this year, and while I felt that Iowa was the more talented overall team with Luka Garza leading the way, Illinois had been lights out at home, so I was confident we were on the right side. And with just over ten minutes left in the game, with the Illini up sixteen points, it certainly felt like we had once again nailed a pick.

Even as Iowa put together a furious rally to try and spoil our bet, we were still winning and covering with just twenty seconds left in the game. But several unfortunate plays didn’t go our way, including a questionable out of bounds call, some missed free throws, and a peculiar decision not to foul by Iowa. After all of these events, the Illini won the game, but failed to cover. It was a frustrating night in what has otherwise been a very profitable month.

The win was a big one for Illinois as they were able to hang onto the number four seed in the Big 10, and the double-bye in the conference tournament that goes with it. The Illini will now face the winner of Northwestern, Minnesota, and Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Big 10 tournament.

With the loss, the Hawkeyes fall to the five seed, but will get their chance at revenge against Illinois if they can beat the winner of the opening round game between Minnesota and Northwestern. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to Las Vegas, where the St. Mary’s Gaels play the BYU Cougars in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament.

Today’s Game

  • St. Mary’s Gaels (25-7) at BYU Cougars (24-7)
  • 8:30 PM PST
  • Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
  • TV: ESPN2

The St. Mary’s Gaels are in Las Vegas Monday in desperate need of a signature win as they play the BYU Cougars in the semifinals of the WCC Conference tournament. While some experts believe the Gaels are safely in the field of sixty-eight at this point, I am not so sure, as St. Mary’s has just two quad one victories on the year. So, as the bubble begins to shrink this week before Selection Sunday, a win like this one tonight would go a long way into solidifying the Gaels spot in the Big Dance.

For BYU, the Cougars have been on fire since seeing superstar player Yoeli Childs return from a nine-game suspension to start the year, and the Cougars have their eyes set on a second weekend showing in the tournament, as they are currently projected as a five seed by ESPN chief Bracketologist, Joe Lunardi. The Cougars defeated Gonzaga late in the season and are hoping to do it again in the WCC finals and win their first-ever WCC Conference tournament title since joining the league in 2011.

Spread:

  • St. Mary’s +4 (-110)
  • BYU -4 (-110)
Money line:

  • St. Mary’s +162
  • BYU -182
Total Points:

  • Over 146.5 (-110)
  • Under 146.5 (-110)

BYU Cougars

This BYU Cougars team is a LOT better than most people are giving them credit for right now. Most of their losses this season came before Yoeli Childs was on the floor, and since he has returned, this team has been rampaging through the WCC. The top four teams in the WCC standings this year, besides BYU, are Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, Pacific, and San Francisco, the Cougars have beaten them all.

BYU also holds wins over Nevada, Houston, UCLA, UNLV, and Utah State in the non-conference. Kenpom currently has the Cougars as the twelfth best team in the country, and if that seems too high to you, you haven’t seen this team play. They have three stars that can score the basketball, including Childs, Jake Toolson, and TJ Haws. The Cougars use that triple-headed attack to score over eighty points a game, one of the highest totals in the country. In terms of offensive efficiency, this team is fifth-best in the nation.

St. Mary’s Gaels

Every year Randy Bennett gets smashed at tournament time for weak scheduling, yet every year, he goes out and schedules weak again. This year he did slightly better, but the Gaels SOS of #100, is more a function of a much improved WCC this year, rather than aggressive scheduling, as the non-conference SOS for St. Mary’s is sitting at #190.

And now as the Gaels sit on the bubble, yet again, they must be wondering if they maybe should have played someone this year. They do have a couple of quality victories over Wisconsin, Arizona State, and Utah State in the non-conference, but they also have some bad losses that will be major blemishes to the selection committee.

Losses to Winthrop, Pacific, and Santa Clara, all came to teams ranked outside of the top-100. As weak as their resume is, I do still think this is a talented team, particularly on offense. The Gaels have the 12th ranked offense in terms of efficiency, and they score over seventy-six points a game.

Who Do I Like?

I am shocked to see this number at four points. These two teams played twice this season, and both games were very competitive. The first game went into overtime with the Gaels beating BYU 87-84 in Moraga. The second matchup came in Provo, and the Cougars got their revenge, winning 81-79, at home. And while I think BYU wins the game, backing St. Mary’s with more than a possessions worth of points shows some strong value.

And while I will make a small play on St. Mary’s in this one, I see even more value in the game total. The first two times these teams matched up, they scored 171 points and 160 points. So, I was a little surprised when I saw the total open up at just 148-points, felt pretty low. And since the number has opened, everyone seems to be jumping on the under, and the total now stands at 146.5-points, feels very low.

The Bet

The BYU Cougars the number one shooting three-point shooting team in the nation at 42.3% from deep. St. Mary’s? They are no slouch either, as they are third in the country at 39.7% from beyond the arc. Both of these teams are ranked in the top ten from the field as well. It is going to be raining threes and jumpers in Las Vegas tonight, and I expect a lot of them to go in.

In the first two games combined, these teams made thirty-five three-pointers. I see more of that coming tonight as neither of these teams are great at stopping perimeter shots, and if you leave either of these teams open, they can kill you from deep. This one is going to go over and might end up going way over. Give me the over 146.5-points tonight in what should be a high-scoring and very competitive and entertaining affair.

The Bet: Over 146.5

My Pick
Over 146.5
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL