San Francisco vs. Santa Clara Odds & Pick: Dons On Upset Alert? (Thursday, Jan. 21)
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- San Francisco opened as around a 3-point favorite for Thursday's West Coast Conference matchup against Santa Clara.
- The Dons' 3-point shooters are capable of lighting it up any night, but college basketball betting analyst Kyle Remillard believes there's value on the Broncos as home underdogs.
- Read his full betting analysis below, including his pick for Thursday night's game.
San Francisco vs. Santa Clara Odds
The San Francisco Dons make the short trip down to the Leavey Center to face the Santa Clara Broncos on Thursday night.
It has been a rollercoaster of a season thus far for San Francisco (9-7). The Dons lost their season opener as 18-point favorites against UMass-Lowell at Mohegan Sun’s Bubbleville. They avenged that loss with neutral-site wins over Towson and ACC powerhouse Virginia Cavaliers as 15-point underdogs. That trend has continued into conference play: San Francisco has traded wins for losses and sits at 3-3 in the West Coast Conference.
Santa Clara took care of business in non-conference play, winning its first six games by an average margin of 11 points. Then, the Broncos’ competition heated up with matchups against Colorado State and USC, and the team sustained double-digit losses in back-to-back games. Santa Clara now sits at 8-3 overall and 2-1 in conference, which includes a road win against Saint Mary’s as a 9-point underdog.
When San Francisco has the ball
Second-year head coach Todd Golden has the Dons playing his style of basketball: Run and gun. San Francisco has taken a staggering 457 3-pointers out of 908 total field goal attempts this season. Over half of the Dons’ shot attempts come from beyond the arc, where they convert at 36%.
The backcourt duo of Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz deliver the majority of the team’s scoring. Bouyea (17.5 points per game) is the senior leader on offense and is one of the few San Francisco players who can consistently score inside. Shabazz is the second scoring option for the Dons, averaging 15.5 points per game and shooting 36% from the floor.
The third true scoring threat for San Francisco is junior forward Dzmitry Ryuny, who averages 10.3 points and 6.0 boards per game. Ryuny fits seamlessly into Golden’s playing style, chucking an average of 6.8 3s per game versus 1.8 attempts from 2-point land.
When Santa Clara has the ball
Fifth-year coach Herb Sendek helped Santa Clara eclipse 20 wins last year. The Broncos return the majority of their roster from that landmark 20-win season; their combination of depth and continuity has enabled them to take yet another step in 2020-21.
This deep roster is led by senior forward Josip Vrankic, who averages 14.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Nonetheless, Santa Clara doesn’t need to rely on him to score the basketball in order to be competitive. The Broncos’ rotation includes nine players who put up steady shot attempts per game — and nearly all of them score at an efficient clip.
The one knock on Santa Clara has been its poor 3-point production. The Broncos rank 334th in 3-point percentage (3P%). The team’s poor perimeter shooting (26.9%) is particularly vexing, because last year — with nearly an identical roster — Santa Clara shot 35% from behind the arc.
However, upon closer examination, the reason for the Broncos’ poor 3-point percentage becomes clear. The Broncos made only seven out of 45 attempts from long range in their two losses to USC and Colorado State.
Santa Clara has averaged a more palatable 32% from 3-point range in its other nine games this season. That begs the argument that the team should continue to see positive regression towards its 2019-20 production as the current season progresses.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Any team that shoots half of its shots from 3-point range is likely to experience above-average volatility from game to game. Accordingly, San Francisco has struggled against the spread recently, covering in just two of its last nine games.
Expect Santa Clara to use its length and depth to aptly defend against the Dons’ perimeter shooting. Santa Clara’s starting unit consists of five players that are each 6-foot-5 or taller. That height advantage will make it difficult for San Francisco to hoist uncontested 3-point shots in this matchup. Instead, the Dons will be forced to win this game inside the arc, which plays to Santa Clara’s strength: The Broncos rank sixth in the nation in 2-point defense.
Santa Clara matches up well with this San Francisco squad, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos win this game outright.
Pick: Santa Clara +3 | Play down to +2