- BYU is a 1.5-point road underdog versus Saint Mary’s on Thursday (Jan. 14th, 11 pm EST)
- The Cougars have won four of their past five, while the Gaels have dropped two of three
- See below for analysis, odds and a betting prediction
Thursday’s college hoops slate isn’t complete without the late night hammer from the WCC. BYU (9-3, 0-1 WCC) visits Saint Mary’s (9-3, 0-1 WCC) in a battle of two teams looking for their first conference win.
The Cougars are fresh off a blowout loss to #1 Gonzaga, while the Gaels dropped a surprising decision to lightweight Santa Clara last time out.
BYU vs Saint Mary’s Odds
|BYU Cougars||+1.5 (-120)||+104||Over 132.5 (-110)|
|Saint Mary’s Gaels||-1.5 (-102)||-112||Under 132.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan. 13th at FanDuel.
Despite the disappointing defeat, Saint Mary’s opened up as a short 1.5-point favorite. The Gales have dropped two of their past three overall, while BYU’s loss to the Zags was their first in five games.
Will BYU Rebound?
The Cougars are in the middle of one of their toughest stretches of the season with road games against Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and San Francisco in a nine day span. They spotted the Bulldogs a 32-point lead before rallying to make the contest somewhat competitive, but sloppy play and poor shooting did them in.
— BYU Basketball (@BYUbasketball) January 8, 2021
An off-game against the best team in the Nation isn’t a complete surprise, but the question now is can they bounce back? Prior to their most recent loss, they’d reeled off four straight victories, outscoring their opposition by a total of 52 points. Two of those wins came against top-70 programs (Utah and San Diego State) and they averaged just 69 points against during that stretch.
Offensively, they’re led by Alex Barcello who averages 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He’s one of three Cougars who averages double-digit points per night, and one of the best 3-point shooters in the nation.
Top 3pt% in nation (min. 30 att):
Alec Barcello: 62.5% (BYU)
Nate Johnson: 59.1% (Xavier)
Quincy Olivari: 54.2% (Rice)
Ron Harper, Jr: 52.5% (Rutgers)
Sasha Stefanovic: 52.0% (Purdue)
— Brad Wachtel (@Brad_Wachtel) December 21, 2020
As a team, they shoot a high percentage from the field (47.5%) and draw assists at a very strong rate. Over the past three games, they have an assist on 61.3% of their field goals, which is on the higher marks in college basketball.
They’re loaded with experience, as every one of their top-five rotational players are upperclassmen, and only one Freshman sees any kind of meaningful minutes.
Gaels Gone Cold
Saint Mary’s meanwhile, shot just 39% from the field in their loss to Santa Clara, going 5-for-17 from beyond the arc. It’s the third time in their last four outings they’ve shot worse that 40%, and they haven’t exceeded 64 points in a game since December 15th.
Saint Mary's falls in final seconds to Santa Clara.
Gaels remain at home for matchups with BYU and Gonzaga next week. pic.twitter.com/Eyzh5Gg0vz
— Saint Mary's Hoops (@saintmaryshoops) January 10, 2021
Offensively they’re led by Tommy Khuse and his 14.8 points per game, but despite boasting four players who average in double figures, they rank 248th in the Nation in points per game, and 184th in field goal percentage.
Known for their defense, they’re a small, scrappy team that likes to keep games low scoring. They allow just over 60 points per outing, and three of their past four games have stayed under the total.
They’ve dominated BYU at home in the past, reeling off six straight victories over them, but this year’s group is largely untested. They’ve yet to beat a team ranked inside the top-81, and just four of their 12 opponents have been ranked inside the top-100.
Cash with the Cougars
BYU on the other hand, has faced five opponents ranked inside the top-50, winning two of those contests and falling just short of upsetting Boise State. They’re bigger, more experienced and boast better shooting numbers across the board.
All three of their losses have come against quality opponents and I don’t expect them to slip-up against this underachieving Saint Mary’s squad.
Pick: BYU Cougars +1.5 (-120)
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