College Basketball Odds & Picks: Betting the Surprising UC Irvine vs. Cal State Northridge Over/Under

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Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UC Irvine forward Collin Welp (40) reacts to a call during a game at SAP Center in San Jose, CA.

It’s pretty rare for a college basketball total to truly shock me when it hits the board this late in the season. But on Saturday night we have two teams that are so diametrically opposed in terms of style of play and overall team strengths that oddsmakers were forced to lean heavily in one team’s direction.

The question at the Matadome tonight is, are oddsmakers right or did they overplay CSUN’s hand?

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UC Irvine at Cal State Northridge

  • Spread: UCI -5
  • Over/Under: 149.5
  • Time: 10 p.m. ET
  • TV: Big West TV

UC Irvine isn’t just a special team by mid-major standards, they’re a special team on the national scene, thanks to their defense. The Anteaters knocked off Kansas State last March as a 13-seed, and they’re back to their old tricks this season.

In terms of 2P% defense, no one is better in all of college basketball than UCI. Their EFG% is also sterling, ranking them at the top of the Big West and 13th in the country.

So it should come as no shock that it’s been profitable betting under in UCI conference games this season. The under has paid out in 59% of their games, which is made all the more impressive when you consider just how low these totals have been. The average UCI game over/under checks in at 136 this season, which is why this opening number caught my attention. For a total to check in 13-14 points higher than the norm is shocking.

At its core UCI plays slow and relies on halfcourt defense. Cal State Northridge is the complete opposite. The Matadors live up to their nickname by offering zero resistance to opponents on their way to the hoop.

CSUN is in the bottom 10% of the following defensive metrics and I can assure you, they’re even worse in person:

Opp Points Per Game

Opp Effective FG%

Opp 3-Point percentage

Opp Assists/TO Ratio

What CSUN does well is score. Lamine Diane is a borderline All-American averaging 26 points and 10 rebounds per game. The Robin to his Batman is Terrell Gomez who averages 20.3 PPG on 42.9% shooting from 3-point range. The tandem joins Hampton’s Ben Stanley and Jermaine Marrow as the only other 20-and-20 duo in the country.

In Big West play, CSUN overs have cashed in seven out of 11 games, but interestingly only one in their past four home games have exceeded the closing number.

Did the Matadors’ most recent game, an absurd 110-98 loss to UC Davis in regulation, inflate this number by a three or four points? Absolutely.

UC Irvine has no interest in a full-on track meet and they have the defensive acumen to slow Diane down enough to pull away in a game played in the 70s. I like the game flow to favor both UCI against the spread and the under in this one.

The Picks: UCI -5 | Under 149.5

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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