Pepperdine vs. BYU College Basketball Odds & Pick: Expect the Cougars to Cover Big Spread in WCC Semifinals (March 8)
Robert Johnson/Getty Images. Pictured: Spencer Johnson (20) of BYU
- BYU and Pepperdine play a rubber match in the WCC semifinals after splitting the season series.
- The Cougars must avoid an upset to make Selection Sunday less nerve wracking.
- BJ Cunningham explains why the Cougars are a good value with their interior scoring.
Pepperdine vs. BYU Odds
Pepperdine and BYU meet late Monday night in the WCC semifinals with BYU’s NCAA Tournament hopes potentially on the line.
Pepperdine took down Santa Clara in the quarterfinals Saturday night, which got the Waves back to above .500. It’s been an average season for Pepperdine, who finished fourth in the WCC standings. They did, however, split the season series with BYU, so they are capable of pulling off an upset.
BYU has had a fantastic season but is currently sitting somewhat on the bubble in the latest ESPN bracketology, as they’re currently projected to be a 7-seed. Another bad loss to a team like Pepperdine may end up moving them to one of the First Four games or completely cost them a ticket to the NCAA Tournament in its entirety. The Cougars need to win this game to secure their place in the NCAA Tournament, as a likely loss to Gonzaga in the championship game won’t have much effect on their resume.
When Pepperdine has the ball
Outside of Gonzaga and BYU, Pepperdine has been the best offense in the WCC this season. The Waves average 1.03 points per possession and are what I would define as average. Pepperdine doesn’t really do anything extraordinary, but they also do not have any weaknesses. They like to play fast, ranking 61st nationally in adjusted tempo, per KenPom, which will will bring BYU out of their comfort zone if they are able to play fast.
It was a tale of two stories in the two meetings with BYU for the Waves. In the first meeting, Pepperdine was only able to average 0.77 points per possession and shot over 2.87% from the field. In the second meeting, they pulled off an upset over the Cougars by scoring inside at a much more efficient rate. However, I don’t think they can rely on that consistently because this BYU defense is difficult to consistently score on.
BYU allowed only 0.96 points per possession during WCC play because of their versatility to guard all over the court. They allowed only 32.3% from three-point range and 45.4% from two-point range. In fact, they ranked inside the top 30 nationally in defensive efficiency per KenPom. If they are able to keep Pepperdine from consistently scoring in the paint, they should have an easy route to victory.
When BYU has the ball
The Cougars play a dribble-handoff offense that is reliant on having good shooters on the floor. The good news is they’ve been shooting the lights out during conference play, which has led them to averaging 1.12 points per possession.
BYU is the best three-point shooting team in conference, converting over 39%. However, it’s also the reason they struggled offensively in both games against Pepperdine this season, shooting a combined 11 of 43 from behind the arc. That mostly has to do with the fact that Pepperdine is elite at guarding the three-point shot, allowing only 27.6%, which is the fourth-best mark in the entire country.
Where the Cougars are going to have to do most of their scoring is inside, and that won’t be a problem. BYU averages almost 55% from two-point range and an insane 67.8% on shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop-Math. Pepperdine is one of the worst teams in the country at guarding inside the perimeter, ranking 330th in two-point percentage allowed. They also are allowing 64% on shot attempts at the rim, so BYU should be able to score at will in the paint.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Even though BYU struggled offensively in both meetings with Pepperdine this season, I think they should able to torch the Waves if they focus on getting the ball inside. Unless the Waves are able to consistently score inside, I think their offense is going to suffer, which should give BYU a good path to victory and covering.
I have BYU projected as -10.97 favorite, so think there is some value on the Cougars at -8.5 (FanDuel).
Pick: BYU -8.5| Play up to -9