Washington State vs. BYU Odds & Picks: Which Team Will Advance to Madison Square Garden?

Washington State vs. BYU Odds & Picks: Which Team Will Advance to Madison Square Garden? article feature image

Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Gideon George (BYU)

  • Washington State squares off against BYU in the second NIT quarterfinal affair.
  • Both Cougar teams were expected to make the NCAA Tournament this season, but both failed to do so.
  • Anthony Dabbundo dives into this clash and offers up his top betting selection.

Washington State vs. BYU Odds

Wednesday, March 23
9 p.m. ET
Washington State Odds
-110o / -110u
BYU Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The final two spots in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden will be decided on Wednesday, as Washington State travels to Provo to take on BYU.

Both teams began the year with NCAA Tournament aspirations, but both Cougars suffered some brutal close losses and came up short on quality wins. Both have treated the NIT as a bit of a season reset and have played some of their best basketball in the final games of the campaign.

Washington State beat both Santa Clara and SMU by double digits — the second coming away from home — in the last two games.

Both the Broncos and Mustangs were underrated squads all year for different reasons, but the Cougars easily dispatched them despite not shooting the ball well from deep in either game.

BYU's path to the quarterfinals has been a bit more favorable, as the Cougars have not left Provo, a place where they have a well above average home court advantage. BYU beat Long Beach State by 21 in the opening round and then beat a solid Northern Iowa team by 19 in the second round.

BYU has really struggled when it has stepped up in competition, while Washington State has failed to close out games and has one of the worst records in the country in tight affairs this season.

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Washington State Cougars

Washington State has had a big "what if" season. The Cougars went just 5-10 in close games and ranked 341st in KenPom's luck metric. Blown leads, final-minute failures and injuries have really derailed a team that was more than capable of making the NCAA Tournament.

According to ShotQuality, the Cougars should have two more wins than they actually do, and are one of the bigger under-performers in the entire country.

The offense relies a lot on second-chance opportunities, which it creates because of long rebounds off of 3s. The Cougars have excellent rebounding guards and force teams to respect the threat of offensive boards.

Teams don't get in transition too often against them because they have to rebound, and WSU also has an elite half-court defense. Per ShotQuality, Washington State ranks inside the top-30 in half-court defense, and is elite at guarding ball screens and cuts.

That's a major key against BYU, an offense that relies a ton on those same offensive approaches.

Washington State also turns teams over at a well above average rate, and BYU's offense has a tendency to be turnover prone when it steps up in competition level.

Washington State has a decided advantage on the defensive end with its ability to guard the things that BYU typically uses most often to generate offense.

Washington State has long wings that are far more athletic and versatile than BYU, as well. It can at least make it difficult for the BYU shooters defensively.

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BYU Cougars

BYU began the season 17-4 and 5-1 in WCC play, with key wins against Oregon, San Diego State, Saint Mary's and San Francisco. It looked like a sure NCAA Tournament team, but it really fell apart in the second half of the season.

Losses to Santa Clara and Pacific, two defeats to San Francisco and another defeat to SMC ended the Cougars' NCAA Tournament hopes.

They were pretty overrated all season, and two wins against inferior opponents in the NIT isn't going to change that. Per ShotQuality, BYU won four more games than it should have this season.

Its perimeter defense is extremely overrated, and there's a lot of regression still coming for this unit. The Cougars rank 30th in defending the 3-point shot, but allow a ton of unguarded 3s. BYU's opponents have only made 31% from deep against it, but the expected percentage is 34%.

Against a Washington State team that shoots a lot of 3s, there could be some serious regression coming in this game. Northern Iowa was able to find plenty of success from 3 (11-of-27), and WSU could easily do the same.

Another major issue for BYU's perimeter defense is the lack of turnovers forced. BYU is in the bottom-30 in the country in this stat.

BYU runs the risk of getting bogged down in the half-court offensively, where WSU has advantages in this game.

Washington State vs. BYU Betting Pick

The market opened at Washington State +3.5, and it's seen some movement down toward three. The current spread implies that these two teams are even on a neutral court, and while that may have been true at the beginning of the season, that's not really the case now.

Since Jan. 1, Washington State ranks 41st in BartTorvik efficiency, and BYU is all the way down to 86th. While BYU's defense has trended down for most of the season because of its inability to turn teams over, Washington State forces a lot of turnovers and is elite in the half-court.

WSU should keep BYU out of transition, make enough 3s against a mediocre BYU perimeter defense and turn this into a toss-up game in Provo.

I'd back Washington State at anything +3 or better, and I think it has a great shot to win outright.

Pick: Washington State +3 or better

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Nick Sterling
Jun 22, 2024 UTC