College Basketball Odds, Picks and Predictions for Fresno State vs. Utah (Tuesday, Dec. 21)
Photo by Matt Cohen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Hill
- Updated Fresno State vs. Utah odds list the Utes as a 3-point favorite, up half a point from earlier in the day on Tuesday. Some books have even gone to -3.5.
- Kyle Remillard believes injuries will catch up with Utah, creating value on Fresno State for this non-conference clash.
- Get his full Fresno State vs. Utah preview and pick below.
Fresno State vs. Utah Odds
|Fresno State Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Fresno State travels to Salt Lake City in search of its 10th victory of the season, as it faces a banged-up Utah squad.
Fresno State is 9-2, with its sole losses coming by eight points to California and San Francisco. The Bulldogs have the fifth-ranked scoring defense, which has held opponents to 56 points per game. Only one opponent has scored more than 65 points all season against the stifling defense.
Utah will try to be the second team to complete that feat, but it is dealing with the injury bug. The Utes’ two rim protecting forwards are out, and that proved costly in the 83-75 loss to Missouri last time out.
The Utes have lost four of their last six games and hope to get back in the win column against the Bulldogs.
Whether Utah can rally around a guard-oriented lineup and slow down Fresno’s big men is a challenge that may be unfeasible.
Fresno State has relied on its relentless defense that has held opponents to 56 points per game this season. The group owns the 68th defensive efficiency ranking in the nation, which is third in the Mountain West.
The Bulldogs have been dominant at defending the paint, holding opponents to 44% on 2-point attempts — 35th-best in the country.
Much of that success is thanks to the seven-foot junior forward Orlando Robinson. He’s a force inside the paint, averaging 18.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Robinson is vital for the program on both ends of the floor. He’s going to create a massive mismatch against a Utah program that is missing both of its big men in this matchup.
Fresno owns a well-balanced offense that has six players averaging seven or more points per game this season. The Bulldogs have been efficient on the offensive end, with the one struggle being the 3-point shots.
Utah may elect to go with a zone defense in this game. If the Utes decide to go that route, Arizona transfer Jemarl Baker Jr. will be able to light it up from outside.
Baker Jr. is a sharpshooter who has connected on 35% of his 3-point attempts in two seasons with the Wildcats. He returned three games ago from a knee injury and should be at full strength in this matchup.
Craig Smith has already endured his fair share of challenges in his first season at the helm of the Utes. Utah only returned one major piece from last year’s squad in Branden Carlson, and turned to the transfer portal to bring in six new guys.
Utah started out winning its first five games against sub-par competition, but it has since won just two of its last six games as the competition has stiffened.
The injury bug has hit the program, as Utah lost 6-foot-10 forward Dusan Mahorcic until January with a knee injury.
Life got tougher for the Utes after hearing that Carlson was placed in the health-and-safety protocols and is likely to miss this matchup with Fresno. Carlson is a seven-foot junior who is the leading scorer (13.9) and rebounder for the Utes.
Without both in the lineup, Utah struggled to slow down the Missouri big men last time out. Kobe Brown scored 27 points while going 8-for-11 from the field.
Mizzou scored 38 points in the paint, and that’s a major concern as Utah now welcomes in a monster in Robinson.
Utah has been strong at defending the 3-point shots — ranking seventh in the nation — but has struggled in defending the paint, allowing opponents to hit 47%. That’s a bad recipe against Fresno, which dominates the paint and doesn’t rely on many outside shot attempts.
Fresno State vs. Utah Betting Pick
This Fresno State program has started to gel and is 9-2 on the season. More impressively, the group is 8-2 against the spread. The Bulldogs travel to Utah to face a program that has covered just twice in its last nine games.
Injuries have been a major factor in Utah’s recent struggles, and it will play a huge role in this matchup.
With Carlson out due to COVID-19 protocols and Mahorcic nursing his knee injury, the Utes are left with 6-foot-9 forward Riley Battin to defend the paint. Battin isn’t much of a rim protector, as he’s accumulated just one block in his 257 minutes on the court this season.
Fresno State’s offense is run through Robinson, who has scored on 58% of his 2-point attempts and is a force in the paint. We saw Utah have no answer for Missouri’s big men, and it won’t have an answer to Robinson in this game.
With all the injuries to Utah’s frontcourt, there is value on Fresno State with the points. I will be taking the free points — in addition to the moneyline — as I see the Bulldogs leaving Salt Lake City with its 10th victory of the season.
Pick: Fresno State +2.5 (Play to PK)
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