Boise State vs Northwestern Odds, Picks: Broncos Have Value

Boise State vs Northwestern Odds, Picks: Broncos Have Value article feature image

Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured from left: Boo Buie of Northwestern and Tyson Degenhart of Boise State.

  • The Boise State Broncos and Northwestern Wildcats meet in a Thursday night NCAA Tournament clash.
  • The Wildcats enter as short favorites after an impressive season in the Big Ten.
  • BJ Cunningham is backing the underdog, though, and explains why in his full Boise State vs Northwestern betting preview below.

Boise State vs Northwestern Odds

Thursday, March 16
7:35 p.m. ET
Boise State Odds
-110o / -110u
Northwestern Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Northwestern and Boise State meet in Sacramento in the NCAA tournament for a pivotal 7-10 matchup with the winner likely getting UCLA.

Boise State made it in as an at-large team out of the Mountain West Conference, which is a pretty impressive feat.

The Broncos are a battled-tested team that had neutral-court non-conference wins over both Colorado and Texas A&M, along with victories over San Diego State and Utah State during Mountain West play.

Northwestern largely benefited from some end-of-game variance throughout Big Ten play and ended up finishing second in the conference.

The Wildcats were bounced in the quarters of the Big Ten Tournament in overtime by Penn State, and they are a team that is still due for negative regression, which is not what you want heading into the tourney.

Boise State Broncos

Boise State is a heavy pick-and-roll and post-up offense, which works for the Broncos because they're very efficient in both of those sets, ranking inside the top 150 in college basketball.

They also were incredibly dominant at the rim during Mountain West play, shooting 62% on shot attempts at the rim.

The Broncos also shoot a decent percentage from 3-point range, hitting 36% for the season.

They are also a top-85 efficiency team on catch-and-shoot 3-point jumpers.

However, the reason Boise State is in the tournament is because of its defense. The Broncos finished the season 14th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, and they do not allow you to get second-chance opportunities, ranking 17th in defensive rebounding percentage.

Although Boise State doesn't have a tall frontcourt, its 2-5 starters are all 6-foot-5 or taller and all weigh more than 200 pounds, so they are an incredibly physical and grueling team to play against.

The Broncos have defended the 3-point line at an incredibly high level this season, allowing just 30%. That's mainly because all of those 3-pointers are contested.

Boise State is 48th in the country in Open 3 Point Rate Allowed because of the length it has on the perimeter and the fact that all five guys on the floor can defend away from the basket.

That's big against a high-frequency 3-point-shooting team such as Northwestern.

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Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern was at one point one of the more underrated teams in college basketball, but now it's firmly on the radar.

The Wildcats do two things very well offensively: they attack the rim at an elite level, and they run a ton of pick-and-roll.

Northwestern is 11th in the country in PPP at the rim and has the 15th-highest pick-and-roll frequency in the country — though it's only 100th in PPP in that set, per ShotQuality.

Northwestern also does a fantastic job spacing the floor and getting the best shot possible, but that really only applies to field goal attempts inside the arc.

As you can see below, Northwestern is 351st in Open 3 Point Rate, which is a problem because during Big Ten play, 40.2% of its 3-point attempts came from behind the arc.

Image via ShotQuality

Northwestern got to the free-throw line at the second-best rate during Big Ten play, but Boise State was second in the Mountain West at preventing teams from getting to the free-throw line.

Northwestern's defense ran pretty well this season, finishing 13th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom, but it was ninth in that same category during Big Ten play.

The Wildcats really struggled defending in pick and roll, ranking 213th in PPP allowed. That's bad news against Boise State, which is a heavy pick-and-roll offense.

Northwestern's defense is also largely built off of forcing turnovers, which isn't going to work against the Broncos, who were top-75 in turnover percentage allowed on offense.

Boise State vs Northwestern Betting Pick

I really like the matchup here for Boise State against a Northwestern defense that ran pretty hot all season long and is due for negative regression. 

Image via ShotQuality

Boise State's ability to run the pick-and-roll on offense and get the ball into the post will be key, given those are two of Northwestern's weaknesses on defense.

The flip side is Boise State's length and athleticism match up really well against Northwestern.

The Broncos won't allow the Wildcats to get good looks from 3-point range, the Wildcats won't get many second-chance opportunities and Boise State is also top-70 at keeping teams off the free-throw line.

So, I love the value on the Broncos as underdogs at +1.5.

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