NCAA Tournament Betting Guide for Utah State vs Missouri

NCAA Tournament Betting Guide for Utah State vs Missouri article feature image

Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured from left: Kobe Brown of Missouri and Steven Ashworth of Utah State.

  • The Utah State Aggies look to pick up a win for the Mountain West when they take on the Missouri Tigers in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
  • The Mountain West has gone just 2-10 in the tournament since 2018, so the Aggies are looking to buck that trend as the favorite.
  • Read on for Anthony Dabbundo's full betting preview and pick for Utah State vs Missouri.

Utah State vs Missouri Odds

Thursday, March 16
1:40 p.m. ET
Utah State Odds
-110o / -110u
Missouri Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Utah State and Missouri's electric offenses should make their matchup on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA tournament one of the most evenly-matched and highest-scoring contests.

The total sits at 155.5, which is the second-highest among the 32 matchups scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Both programs are on the rise under relatively new head coaches, as Utah State made it back to the tournament in year one under head coach Ryan Odom, and Missouri is back to the dance in year one with Dennis Gates.

The Aggies were viewed as on the bubble by most bracketologists headed into last week, but a run to the Mountain West Tournament final — with wins against New Mexico and Boise State  — secured their place directly into the field.

Based on their underlying numbers and true quality metrics, they're one of the most underseeded teams in the entire field.

Missouri's underlying numbers suggest that the Tigers are one of the most overseeded teams in the tournament field, and that's on display with the betting markets that show the No. 10 seed Aggies as the small favorites on Thursday.

Both teams love to shoot from the perimeter and can pour in points for fun. This matchup is likely to be decided by who can guard the 3-point line, and the Aggies grade out considerably better here.

Utah State Aggies

Utah State has been an elite offense all season, but the improvements in its underlying metrics have come from an improvement in defense in the last month of the season.

The Aggies' defense is 11th in the nation in Bart Torvik Adjusted Defensive Efficiency in the last 30 days. Because of the improved guarding, Utah State is 10th in overall efficiency, too.

There can be a danger in overreacting to small defensive samples, and the Aggies' defense certainly does have its flaws. But they've done a much better job of running shooters off the 3-point line in the last 30 days.

It's not particularly sustainable to see opponents shoot just 29% from deep against them — as they have in the last month — but the defense has also improved at the rim.

Only one defense in the Mountain West allowed a lower 3-point attempt rate than the Aggies this season.

The Aggies don't have a true rim protector, and they do struggle in post-up defense. But Missouri isn't a team that uses much of a post offense at all and won't be able to exploit that clear Utah State weakness on defense.

Missouri was also one of the worst rebounding teams in the whole SEC, and while Utah State isn't great on the glass, the Aggies are an underrated offensive rebounding unit.

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Missouri Tigers

Of all of the at-large bids to the NCAA tournament, none had a worse Defensive Adjusted Efficiency rating than Missouri. The defense forces you to shoot from the perimeter at one of the highest rates in the country, and the Tigers allow a ton of unguarded 3s.

Only four teams in the country allow a higher percentage of unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers, and that's the biggest strength for the Aggies' offense.

The Tigers like to spring an occasional press to slow down teams, but the Aggies don't turn the ball over often, nor do they struggle against presses this season.

Utah State is in the 91st percentile, per Synergy, in press offense and is well above average in turnover rate. If the Tigers try to extend pressure, that's only going to present more open 3-point opportunities for the 11th-best 3-point shooting offense in the nation.

When you also consider that Missouri played in an SEC this season that had a bunch of poor jump-shooting teams, it makes its defensive numbers all that more concerning.

The Tigers' resume and record were inflated by a 9-1 record in close games, and they ranked in the top 10 in KenPom and Bart Torvik's luck rankings because of that.

Missouri's high-profile non-conference schedule saw it allow 95 points (1.25 PPP) against Kansas and 71 points (1.03 PPP) against an Illinois team that doesn't shoot the ball well at all from the outside.

Utah State vs Missouri Betting Pick

The Mountain West has had almost no tournament success in the last few years. It went 0-4 as a league last year, 0-2 in 2021, 0-2 in 2019 and 2-2 in 2018.

Each year is a new year, though, and the tournament is ultimately all about matchups.

A small sample size of poor MWC results doesn't have any impact on how good this Utah State team is. This is Odom's first time in the tournament with the Aggies, and he's proven with UMBC in 2018 that his style of play can surprise teams and beat expectations.

Instead of a physical war inside that Missouri is used to in the SEC, the Tigers going to have major problems guarding the screens and off-ball actions that the Aggies run as well as anyone in the country.

This line should be closer to three, and I'd bet Utah State at anything -2 or better to win its first-round game.

The Aggies are more well-built to stop the Tigers' strength than the other way around.

The Tigers ran extremely well in an SEC with not many consistent shooters, but Utah State is elite from 3-point range, elite from the free-throw line and it will get more stops defensively in this matchup.

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