George Washington vs. Washington State Odds, Picks | College Basketball Betting Preview
Pictured: Mouhamed Gueye #35 of the Washington State Cougars. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
- George Washington and Washington State go head-to-head in the Diamond Head Classic.
- The Cougars are favored by double digits, but our analyst thinks there's value on the total.
- Jim Root previews the game and offers up his best bet below.
George Washington vs. Washington State Odds
Spending the holidays in Honolulu doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
The Diamond Head Classic has always been a fun curiosity on the schedule, giving us a few quality games at a time when the sport is mostly taking a hiatus. This year’s field is intriguing as there is no real powerhouse, but teams like Iona, Washington State and Utah State have all flashed some at-large potential.
All eight squads will be pitted against each other at the Stan Sheriff Center in Hawaii. One of the opening round matchups features the aforementioned Washington State Cougars taking on George Washington.
It’s worth getting to know these teams. Apart from a standalone Big East clash on Christmas, these eight Diamond Head squads are your only college hoops betting options over the holiday break. Let’s see what Santa left under the tree for us.
The Colonials, like essentially every member of the Atlantic 10, have had a rocky start to the year. New coach Chris Caputo purposely scheduled somewhat lightly in his first year — George Washington hasn’t played a power conference team or a KenPom top 130 team yet. Even so, the Colonials are just 6-4 with home losses to UC San Diego and American.
Notably, though, this team has an impressive roster. Guards James Bishop and Brendan Adams form a high-scoring duo in the backcourt, registering 22.2 and 16.9 points per game, respectively. Both Bishop (LSU) and Adams (UConn) began their careers at power conference schools, a sign of their talent levels. Ricky Lindo (Maryland), a double-double machine, and Amir Harris (Nebraska) are also high-level imports.
The offense revolves around the brilliance of Bishop and Adams. Both players are capable attackers and either score themselves or dish to shooters like Maximus Edwards and EJ Clark. The elite finishing of Lindo and Hunter Dean helps George Washington rank sixth in the country in two-point percentage.
The problem is on defense, where the Colonials are flimsier than a cardboard cutout. George Washington lacks depth and wing size, forcing Caputo to employ a conservative scheme. George Washington never forces turnovers, so patient opponents can get almost any shot they want.
Exacerbating that problem has been the absence of Dean, who has missed two straight games. His availability for this tournament is still in question, though George Washington having nine days off ahead of this one should help.
The Cougars’ 4-6 record is an eyesore, especially when you include the wire-to-wire loss at Prairie View A&M. Dig deeper, though, and it’s not as bad as it seems.
Washington State is 0-5 against teams inside the KenPom top 100, with losses by two (in OT), four and six points. And really, that underscores one of the issues so far with Kyle Smith — an inability to get over the hump against quality competition. Last year, the Cougars went 3-11 against top 100 foes during the regular season. In 2020-21, that mark was 4-11. The program has unquestionably improved, but it must take the next step.
Perhaps a Diamond Head championship could spark that next step. This Cougars team is balanced between offense and defense, relying most on the talents of physical wing TJ Bamba and lanky 6-foot-11 forward Mouhamed Gueye.
Two 6-foot-6 guards may hold the key to Washington State’s ceiling, however. Justin Powell, a transfer from Auburn and Tennessee, is the Cougars’ best ball-handler. He’s also a deadeye shooter, though the next step in his development is simply being more assertive as a scorer. And Saint Mary’s transfer Jabe Mullins is a truly lethal sniper (52.6% from beyond the arc).
Mullins recently missed four straight games, and the offense clearly suffered. His return buoyed a near-upset of Baylor in Dallas on Sunday. He tallied 16 points in that one, looking plenty healthy in the process. He’ll be a crucial figure if the Cougars want to go 3-0 on the island.
George Washington vs. Washington State Betting Pick
The side is tricky here. Washington State is well coached and a team to “buy” with Mullins back. But the Cougars’ methodical style does not make for a great favorite, especially against an underdog with talent. The Colonials could raise their level against power conference competition — as they did when destroying South Carolina by 24 in November. I would lean toward George Washington and the points, but don’t see enough of an edge to bet it.
Considering George Washington’s lack of depth, and the looming gauntlet of “three games in four days”, I expect a slow tempo. That is perfect for Washington State, who ranks 334th nationally in average possession length (KenPom).
That naturally pushes me to bet the under. I think the pace will settle below KenPom’s projection of 65 possessions. Efficiency is a fear — Washington State could cut George Washington’s defense to ribbons, but finding a pace edge is massive.
I made this total 132.1, so I’ll bite down to 134. Tighten those rims, Hawaii!
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