Hall of Fame Classic Championship | San Francisco vs. Wichita State Odds & Picks
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Kunen (San Francisco)
San Francisco vs. Wichita State Odds
|San Francisco Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Wichita State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Amidst the hub-bub of Feast Week, the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic in Kansas City assembled an interesting field full of four mid-major teams with eyes on the postseason in March.
In the tournament's semifinals, San Francisco topped Northern Iowa while Wichita State bested Grand Canyon. It sets up a critical title game Tuesday afternoon, which would serve as a major resume boost for the Dons or the Shockers as they steer towards the NCAA tournament later this season.
Sportsbooks see the game fairly even, making San Francisco just a 1-point favorite. Which team is better positioned to grab the win and enjoy their Thanksgiving week as champions?
The Dons are potentially facing the harsh realities of life after success. San Francisco made the NCAA tournament last season, its first berth in the Big Dance in the 21st century.
Within weeks, the program saw most of its top contributors graduate and head coach Todd Golden leave for Florida. Golden, a promising 37-year old on the rise in the national coaching scene, continued what Kyle Smith developed at USF after Smith departed for a power-conference job at Washington State.
Despite the potential for doom-and-gloom, the Dons look to be in decent shape to contend in the WCC again this year.
Khalil Shabazz is back after adding 14 points per game last season. He's the key cog offensively and should factor into the All-WCC picture when the season ends.
He's aided by power-conference transfers looking to grow into bigger roles. Tyrell Roberts scored 11 points per game for Smith at Washington State last season and is already besting that number, notching 15.3 points per night early on this season.
Roberts forms a backcourt with Marcus Williams, a transfer on his third school in three years, most recently at Texas A&M.
Early on, the most encouraging sign is that new head coach Chris Gerlufsen isn't overturning the apple cart that led to Smith and Golden's success at USF. The Dons have been one of the most innovative, modern and analytically-driven programs in recent years and that doesn't look to have changed.
Through five games, San Francisco is top-five in the nation in 3-point rate allowed and taken, with more than half its shots from outside the arc.
Combined with a top-20 tempo in the nation, the Dons can generate offense, wow viewers and make bookmakers set a high total.
In his third year on the job, head coach Isaac Brown lost his top four scorers from last season, yet still had his sights set on a successful season.
To do so, he and his staff at Wichita State looked to mesh together talent from a variety of sources.
Returning from last year's team, guard Craig Porter Jr. is leading the way offensively. Just a seven-point per game scorer last year, Porter has thrived in an increased role. He's averaged 14 points per game, opening the season with a 22-point outing.
He's joined in the starting lineup by James Rojas, an Alabama transfer who brings versatility to the frontcourt.
Rojas is joined on the interior by JUCO transfer Jaykwon Walton, who is posting double figures in scoring early in the season. Walton is a former Georgia Bulldog, back at the D-I level after a stint away last season.
In total, the Shockers have talent, but most of it is concentrated on the defensive end of the floor. In four games this season, Wichita State has cracked the 60-point barrier just once.
On a per possession basis, it hasn't been much better. Wichita has only scored 1.0 points per possession once in four tries and ranks 142nd offensively. Scoring 57 points, thanks in part to 4-of-24 shooting from long range, in a loss to Alcorn State didn't help matters.
The Shockers can win games defensively, and have so far this season. Wichita State is only shooting 23.5% from outside the arc, somehow better than its opponents at 22.8%.
We're likely to see regression in both regards there.
San Francisco vs. Wichita State Betting Pick
That shooting regression is the main thing I'm watching for when this game tips off on Tuesday.
Wichita State has been lucky to only face 22% shooting from outside so far this season. Some of that is due to active defense, but a number like that is far more likely to be coincidental.
Only one of the Shockers' four opponents this season is making better than 34% from outside this season — the Alcorn State team that beat Wichita State.
The trigger-happy Dons will be more than ready to test the Shockers' luck and are likely ready for some shooting improvement of their own, sitting at just 32% from deep this season despite a roster with some shooting talent.
Wichita State isn't going to shoot under 25% from deep all season either, yet doesn't have the kind of shooters to expect a sudden influx of made 3s.
With a sluggish offense that doesn't have any easy answers, the Shockers should struggle to keep pace on the scoreboard Tuesday.
I'll take the Dons.