Washington State vs Utah Odds & Picks | Pac-12 Betting Preview
Darryl Oumi/Getty Images. Pictured: Mouhamed Gueye (35) of the Washington State Cougars.
Washington State vs Utah Odds
|Washington State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
After starting the season 5-9 overall and 0-3 in Pac-12 Conference play, the Washington State Cougars are finally producing the wins that their promising underlying numbers had suggested were coming. The Cougars have won three consecutive games in the Pac-12 heading into Thursday night’s road trip to Utah.
The two road trips in three days (Utah and Colorado, respectively) at altitude are notoriously difficult for the second leg historically, so keep that in mind for the Cougars on Saturday.
As for Thursday’s game, the Cougars match up well with the offensively-challenged Utah Utes. Utah won the first meeting between these two teams in overtime in Pullman, WA. Now, Washington State has the chance to get revenge.
The betting market opened this line at Utah -3 and bet it up to 3.5. However, I contend that Washington State is the better team — and this game should be closer to a coin flip.
Washington State will have a significant edge on the glass in this matchup against the Utes. The Cougars shoot from the perimeter at a high frequency and generate many long rebounds because of it.
Utah is a mediocre defensive rebounding team despite not applying much ball pressure. Usually a team is good at one or the other, but the Utes struggle with both.
The Cougars pull down offensive rebounds at a top-60 rate nationally and rank in the top-10th percentile at scoring on second chance opportunities, per Synergy.
The best time to generate open 3s is off of offensive rebounds when the defense breaks down. In fact, that is a major reason why the Cougars are such a good offensive shooting team.
They have struggled to finish around the rim and in the post-up — ShotQuality says they should shoot better from those spots — but the Cougars make up for it with elite 3-point shooting.
It’s not just one or two guys, either. The Cougars have four players that shoot 36% or better from beyond the arc.
Utah’s respected power rating is built entirely off of its defense, which doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny when you examine some of the team’s underlying numbers.
The Utes boast the No. 26-rated defense per KenPom despite applying no ball pressure and struggling to force any turnovers. This will come as a welcome sight for a Cougars offense that often struggles to protect the ball.
Opponents have shot just 27% from beyond the arc against the Utes this season. They have a solid perimeter defense, but few teams are truly that good. The Utes’ expected 3-point defense is 32%, per ShotQuality.
Utah likes to run a lot of its offense out of the post, but the Utes will struggle to consistently get great looks there against Washington State’s length inside. The Cougars rank in the top-fifth percentile in post-up defense, per Synergy. Utah also doesn’t have the shooters to exploit potential double teams in the post.
You can take advantage of the Cougars defense in the pick and roll game by dragging the bigs away from the hoop, but Utah’s offense is mediocre in the pick-and-roll too.
It’s simply not a great offensive matchup for Utah overall.
Washington State vs Utah Prediction & Betting Pick
Respected bettors hit the Cougars pretty hard ahead of their games against Arizona Stare and Arizona two weeks ago. The market openers steamed multiple points toward Washington State in those spots.
The opposite is true for Utah, against whom the market moved sharply in games against Stanford and Oregon in the last few weeks.
From a matchup perspective, the Utah defense is still overvalued, because teams have missed a ton of perimeter shots against them.
ShotQuality has this game as a coin flip. The Cougars have a size advantage on the inside, they have the shooters to expose Utah’s perimeter defense that is good — but not as good as the market says it is based on the current point spread.
Utah is also fortunate that opponents have shot particularly poorly from the free throw line — a major reason why Utah has performed better than Washington State has in close games.
Washington State is the better team. Even after factoring in home-court advantage, the Cougars should not be more than 3-point underdogs. I’d bet the Cougars at +3 or better.
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