BYU vs. Saint Mary’s College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: Fade the Cougars Against Solid WCC Competition (Saturday, February 19)
Chris Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Barcello.
- The WCC has been extremely strong this season, and we're lucky enough to see a matchup between BYU and Saint Mary's on Saturday night.
- The Cougars looked like a surefire NCAA Tournament team earlier in the season, but they now find themselves on the bubble and in need of a victory.
- Read on for DJ James' full breakdown top betting pick.
BYU vs. Saint Mary’s Odds
-110o / -110u
|Saint Mary’s Odds|
-110o / -110u
The BYU Cougars are seemingly in free fall considering where they stood about a month ago. Joe Lunardi now has them as a bubble team, according to ESPN’s Bracketology, and heading to play Saint Mary’s on the road is no small feat.
Saint Mary’s, however, dropped a game in early January to the Cougars. This team is at a much different place, though. It just beat another strong West Coast Conference team in San Francisco on Thursday.
Look for Saint Mary’s to potentially win by double digits in this one, as BYU has not shown it can hang with the best of the WCC of late.
BYU’s last three top-100 KenPom games came against Gonzaga, San Fran, and Santa Clara. Two of these were at home, and it lost to the Zags and Dons by wide margins.
BYU relies heavily on the 3-ball. Alex Barcello is the main culprit, shooting 47.1% from downtown on the season. This is one of Saint Mary’s weaker attributes. It struggles to properly defend the arc, so BYU will need to take advantage.
The Cougars have failed to take care of the ball lately. They rank ninth out of 10 WCC teams in turnover rate on offense at 19.4%. The Gaels turn opponents over at a 20.0% clip this season, so if BYU can’t maintain control over the ball, it will be a long night — especially on the road.
BYU also usually owns the glass, at least on the defensive end. The only problem is Saint Mary’s is an elite defensive rebounding team as well. This should eliminate any sort of edge the Cougars believe they may have coming into this contest.
Now, Saint Mary’s is fantastic when it comes to finding interior shot opportunities. The Gaels shoot 52.4% from 2-point range, compared to 49.6% for BYU.
The Cougars are also allowing WCC opponents to run wild around them in the paint. Opponents are shooting 52.4% on shots inside the arc, and that is even more of the case against stronger teams like the Gaels. Matthias Tass is a mismatch for BYU, so expect him to get plenty of touches and playing time.
The Gaels are also neck-and-neck with the Cougars on shooting 3s in conference play. They shoot 37.2% on outside shots against WCC foes, and 31.9% of their total point distribution has come from beyond the arc.
They like to manufacture opportunities outside and take advantage when they do. This should negate the edge BYU typically has over opponents from deep. It’s allowing opponents to shoot upwards of 34%, which is higher than its mark in nonconference play.
The defensive edge the Gaels have over the Cougars should be noted. SMC ranks 15th in KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency rating and tends to control the tempo of a game, ranking 335th. BYU plays at a much quicker pace, but this should not be an issue with the Gaels as the home team.
Saint Mary’s found a way to contain one of the best players on San Francisco in its latest affair. Dons star Jamaree Bouyea has shot over 37.4% from deep on the season, but SMC held him to two points and an 0-for-6 mark from downtown in that game.
The Gaels need to do the same with Barcello, and they should have a similar end result.
BYU vs. Saint Mary’s Betting Pick
Saint Mary’s has one major issue: Defending the arc.
If it can eliminate the only way for BYU to score, it will win this game by a wide margin. SMC needs to use its interior advantage with Tass, as BYU will be unable to defend it.
Take the Gaels at -7 and play to -8.5 because BYU has not proven it can contend with strong teams recently.