Betting ASU-Oregon, Plus Other Thursday Mid-Major Action

Betting ASU-Oregon, Plus Other Thursday Mid-Major Action article feature image

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday isn’t the most appealing slate on paper, but I still like a few games from a betting perspective. Today, I’ll take a detailed look at the following games:

  • Arizona State at Oregon -3 (11:30 p.m. ET)
  • Winthrop at UNC Asheville (7 p.m. ET)
  • South Dakota at South Dakota State -3 (8 p.m. ET)

Follow me on twitter @jorcubsdan for in-game analysis, injury updates, and second-half predictions.

Arizona State at Oregon (-3)

11:30 p.m. ET

ASU had won three straight prior to its home matchup with rival Arizona last Thursday, appearing to regain some of its out-of-conference mojo (wins over Xavier, Kansas State, and at Kansas). The Sun Devils rallied from a large early deficit to take a second-half lead, but ultimately faltered down the stretch. Fortunately for Bobby Hurley, he’s had a week off to refocus his team before the Oregon swing.

In the first meeting in Tempe, Oregon gave ASU fits with its motion hand-off and sideline-to-sideline offense, particularly Payton Pritchard at the point and MiKyle McIntosh off screens in space. The Ducks scored 1.17 points per possession (ppp), despite only 25% shooting (8-of-32) from deep when Hurley went zone. Oregon also rebounded its misses at a 40% rate, which is not only well above its season average, but its best rebounding performance in conference play. To be fair, the Ducks did catch ASU a bit flat-footed, as they had six days of rest after a rivalry loss to Oregon State, while the Sun Devils just returned home from the altitude trip to Boulder and Salt Lake City.

Dana Altman’s extremely unique Oregon defense frequently starts in a soft zone press before sliding into a matchup zone, but will shift to man and back to zone all within the same possession. It generally causes long defensive possessions, which is ideal against a transition-heavy 4-out ASU offense. However, the Ducks have a lot of new faces this year who have struggled to consistently defend for 18-20 seconds. That was the case in the first meeting, when ASU picked the Ducks apart for 1.11 ppp, while getting to the line 31 times.

Forcing ASU to execute in the half court and against a zone has been a recipe for success, but Altman’s half-court defense simply isn’t that good this year. Specifically, Elijah Brown’s pick-and-roll defense at the point of attack against Tra Holder and Shannon Evans is a major concern. The Sun Devils have seen it before and scored efficiently against it. Plus, ASU is well rested ahead of its trip to Eugene, which means it should limit Oregon on the glass this time around. The Sun Devils get their revenge on the road.

PICK: Arizona State +3

Winthrop at UNC Asheville (+1)

7 p.m. ET

UNC Asheville was flat-out embarrassed on national TV in its first meeting with Big South rival Winthrop by a score of 85-58. Since that loss, UNCA has won eight of nine games and now sits atop the Big South standings with … Winthrop. Winning the regular-season crown also comes with the reward of hosting the Big South tournament. A lot is on the line in the second meeting in Asheville, where the Bulldogs will honor a senior class that has tallied the most wins in program history.

In the 27-point blowout loss, UNCA only shot 4-of-22 from deep. It simply couldn’t score over Winthrop’s pack-line scheme, but that likely won’t happen again. UNCA is an elite shooting team that leads the Big South in conference play at 40.6% from 3, thanks to the deadly duo of MaCio Teague and Raekwon Miller.

Winthrop’s offense found every single hole in Nic McDevitt’s hyperaggressive, morphing 1-3-1 zone defense in the first meeting. UNCA typically creates a lot of offense from defense, but this year’s squad isn’t turning teams over at nearly the same rate. UNCA actually finished 12th nationally in defensive turnover rate the previous two seasons, but currently ranks 160th in that category. Winthrop only turned the ball over 10 times in a 75-possession game, while also hitting 11-of-26 from beyond the arc. Six-foot-8 point-forward Xavier Cooks is a lethal weapon to have against the UNCA zone, as he can see over the myriad traps and is an adroit passer. The Bulldogs, who often run out 6-foot-3 Swiss Army knife Ahmad Thomas at the 4 in a super small lineup, simply don’t have the means to match up with Cooks. (No team in the Big South can.)

In my preview for the first meeting, I wrote that the Winthrop backcourt would be overwhelmed by the athleticism of UNCA’s hyperaggressive zone. It turns out, nobody is being overwhelmed by a UNCA defense that ranks eighth in the conference in defensive efficiency rating. That is stunning, considering the Bulldogs finished atop the Big South in that category the past two seasons by a healthy margin. UNCA will come out aggressive with revenge on its minds from the embarrassing loss, but Winthrop is built to handle this team. I think the Eagles just might ruin Senior Night for the winningest class in UNCA program history.

PICK: Winthrop -1

South Dakota at South Dakota State (-3)

8 p.m. ET

The Summit title comes down to a huge rivalry game at Frost Arena, where SDSU has won 19 straight. SDSU will also be looking for revenge from a blowout loss in the first meeting, but USD actually has a few distinct advantages in this matchup.

First, South Dakota coach Craig Smith always sells out on shutting down SDSU star big Mike “The Dauminator” Daum. Smith has the luxury of USD’s big and phenomenal post defender, Tyler Hagedorn. Per Synergy, Hagedorn allows just .446 ppp, which grades out in the 96th percentile nationally. That said, Smith doesn’t typically leave Hagedorn on an island. In the first meeting, he brought quick dig-downs with guards on entry feeds and used Fuller to swarm Daum when he faced the basket. As a result, USD “limited” Daum to 18 and 14. USD has actually held Daum below his season average the past three times they’ve met.

Selling out on Daum can be a dangerous game to play for most, as SDSU has lethal shooters in Reed Tellinghuisen and Skyler Flatten. It also has a penetrating off-guard in David Jenkins, which it lacked last year. However, USD has the best help-and-recover defense in the league. It is the only Summit team to hold conference foes under 1 ppp in league play.

Offensively, USD runs unique motion that tends to exploit mismatches against the Jacks, particularly with its HORNS set that flows into pick and roll for the outstanding Matt Mooney. He’ll slide off the ball and run 2-1-2 motion with Triston Simpson, which can cause problems for an SDSU team that has noticeable deficiencies in defending pick and roll and off-screens. If you can get Daum and Tellinghuisen to move their feet, you can score with ease on SDSU. USD can do just that.

It’s certainly a tall order, but USD has the formula to snap SDSU’s home winning streak. With the combination of its unique motion and excellent post defense, USD might just capture its second straight regular-season Summit title on the road against its in-state rival.

PICK: South Dakota +3

Top photo: Oregon guard Elijah Brown

Photo via Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports