Washington vs. Utah State Betting Guide: Aggies Have Key Edges on Both Ends

Washington vs. Utah State Betting Guide: Aggies Have Key Edges on Both Ends article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Utah State Aggies center Neemias Queta (23), Washington Huskies guard Jaylen Nowell (5).

#9 Washington vs. #8 Utah State: NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Utah State -3
  • Over/Under: 135
  • Date: Friday, March 22
  • Time: 6:50 p.m. ET
  • TV: TNT
  • Location: Columbus, Ohio

>> All odds as of Thursday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

Surprisingly, both of these teams are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011.

Utah State will look to end an ugly run in the tourney, as the Aggies have lost their past six first-round games and are just 1-16 in the tournament since making the Elite 8 in 1970.

This is a good opportunity for Utah State to end its losing streak, as the Aggies match up well against Washington. Let’s take a closer look at this game, which I think may provide a nice live betting opportunity.

Utah State Can Beat Washington’s Zone

Washington runs a zone on defense more than any team in the entire country. The Huskies have sat in the 2-3 zone that head coach Mike Hopkins brought out West from Syracuse in over 95% of its defensive possessions. It’s essentially all they do.

That would cause problems for countless teams in this year’s tourney field, but not for Utah State, which boasts an excellent zone offense. The Aggies have shooters, move the ball well and are an excellent rebounding team — all of which helps drive a pretty efficient zone offense.

If you look at the underlying metrics, Utah State scored 1.015 Points Per Possession against the zone this season, which ranks in the 82nd percentile, nationally. The Aggies have the ability to score on this zone and should dominate the glass on both ends.

Can Washington Shoot Well Enough to Win?

Utah State has a very stingy defense with pack-line principles. The Aggies just don’t allow much at the rim, as they funnel everything toward center Neemias Queta. The 6-foot-11 Queta has helped anchor a defense that ranks fourth in the country in 2P%.

As a result of their scheme, the Aggies are vulnerable on the perimeter. They allowed Mountain West teams to shoot 38.8% from beyond the arc during league play.

However, this Washington team is not known for its 3-point prowess (unless Jaylen Nowell goes off from deep). Plus, Utah State ranks in the top five nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, so it will be able to limit Washington’s second chance opportunities.

Washington will have a tough time scoring on this Utah State defense.

Other Factors to Consider

Washington won’t have many schematic advantages, but it is the much more experienced team. This is essentially the same group from last year, and the Huskies have plenty of senior leadership. Just take a look at KenPom’s Minutes Continuity metric (which compares minutes from last year to this). Washington ranks No. 1 in the nation, while Utah State is about average.

The Aggies lost some key pieces, which is one of the reasons they were picked ninth in the preseason Mountain West poll. They’ve proven all of the doubters wrong, but this team is significantly younger overall than Washington.

Utah State is the hotter team and comes into this game riding a 17-1 stretch which includes a victory in the Mountain West Championship.

Washington, on the other hand, stumbled down the stretch to a 4-3 record over its last seven, which includes a home overtime win over Oregon State and a bad loss to Cal.

As much as I’d like to see Washington move on for the national title future I placed mid-season, Utah State just has too many advantages on both ends of the floor.

That said, I’m actually going to wait to bet Utah State live or at the half because it could take the Aggies some time to figure out the very lengthy and effective Washington zone. But once they do, the offense should start flowing.

Stuckey’s Pick: Wait for Utah State live and target better than -3.

Our Projected Odds: Utah State vs. Washington

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Utah State -1
  • Total: 133
  • Proj Score: Utah State 67 | Washington 66
  • Win Probability: Utah State 50.2% | Washington 49.8%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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