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College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Utah State vs. BYU: Will This Game Become Shootout?

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Utah State vs. BYU: Will This Game Become Shootout? article feature image

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Barcello.

  • Utah State is coming off a loss to one WCC team, and now needs to face BYU.
  • The Cougars are currently ranked No. 24 in the country and have one loss to Utah Valley.
  • Shane McNichol breaks down the big matchup and offers up his best bet.

Utah State vs. BYU Odds

Wednesday, Dec. 8
9 p.m. ET
Utah State Odds
-110o / -110u
BYU Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

On a night with a packed slate of good college basketball games, the one tipping off in Provo may be the most intriguing. Utah State and BYU are both high-caliber mid-major teams with tournament aspirations and star power on the roster.

Add in a little in-state rivalry, and this one becomes a can’t miss matchup. Both teams are eager to collect a non-conference victory before heading off to play in their respective leagues. Who should bettors back in this battle of the Beehive State?

Utah State Aggies

The Aggies are doing their best to make it clear that they are an NCAA Tournament team this season. Utah State is 6-2, with those two losses coming by a combined five points. Neutral court wins over Oklahoma and Richmond will be valued pieces of a tournament resume once Utah State survives a tough slate in the Mountain West.

New head coach Ryan Odom, known best for his UMBC’s team upsetting top-seeded Virginia a few years ago, has a talented team that runs sharp and effective offense.

The Aggie attack is centered around senior forward Justin Bean, who is averaging 22 points and 13 rebounds per game. Bean has the post game of a classic back-to-the-basket power forward but supplements his fancy interior footwork with a reliable jump shot and some prowess off the bounce. He’s shooting 56% from long range and boasts top twenty rankings nationally in offensive rating, true shooting percentage, and effective field goal percentage.

He draws multiple defenders with nearly every touch, which opens up the Aggies to swing the rock around to find an open look. Utah State ranks fourth in the country in assist rate.

Defensively, Odom has his Utah State team playing similarly to his UMBC clubs. The Aggies will allow jump shots over the top and instead focus on protecting the paint. Each of Odom’s last four teams has ranked in the top 60 of 3-point attempt rate allowed. For bettors, that makes the Aggies very high variance. If opponents take advantage and hoist a ton of long balls, the game can look very differently depending on how effectively they shoot that night.

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BYU Cougars

BYU is a very talented mid-major team with eyes on giving Gonzaga a run at the top of the West Coast Conference this season. Fifth-year player Alex Barcello is a star with the ball in his hands and is the catalyst of lots of what the Cougars look to do offensively. Milwaukee transfer Te’Jon Lucas, who began his college career at Illinois, has been a pleasant surprise as a secondary scorer for BYU this season. He’s hit double-figure scoring in all but two of the Cougars games against Division I opponents.

The most interesting thing about BYU, from a betting perspective, is impending shooting regression. On the offensive end, the Cougars are 333rd in the nation in 3-point percentage, despite a roster with capable shooters. Gideon George shot 32% last year but sits at just 14% so far this year.

Seneca Knight shot a mediocre 29% in three seasons with San Jose State but is just 3 for 18 this year. Trevin Knell shot 45% last season but is hitting less than half of that mark this season, at 22% currently. Sophomore Caleb Lohner made one-third of his outside shots last year, yet he’s started this season with an 0-for-14 slump. That is a lot of the BYU roster to all be cold at the same time.

On the other hand, luck has been on BYU’s side on the defensive end of the floor. BYU’s opponents are making just 22.5% from long range, the lowest such percentage in the nation. BYU hasn’t had a Division I opponent sink 30% of its 3-point attempts in a game yet this season.

In a narrow BYU victory over San Diego State, the Aztecs hit just 3-of-22 from outside the arc. Yes, it’s possible that BYU is having success closing out and forcing opponents into contested or late clock 3-point attempts, but it’s much more likely that the Cougars are benefitting from shooting luck so far this season.

Utah State vs. BYU Betting Pick

The factors discussed above, for both teams, make this a wildly volatile match-up. Utah State forces teams into high variance results. BYU is set to see its shooting luck swing wildly on both ends of the floor.

That set of variables could leave a lot of this match-up’s outcome up to shooting luck. For that reason, I’m steering clear of the spread and moneyline and eyeing the total.

The most likely outcome given the current situation? Utah State forces BYU to rely on jump shots, but the Cougars shots finally begin to find the bottom of the night. On the other end of the floor, however, BYU’s luck is due to run out and Utah State has the shooters to take advantage.

I like this game to become a shootout, with both teams able to score. That should make for a riveting match-up of in-state rivals, especially for those who back the over.

Pick: Over 136.5

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