College Basketball Betting: BYU at Portland

College Basketball Betting: BYU at Portland

The West Coast conference has been dominated all season by No. 3 Gonzaga, but there are two other teams below them in the standings making strong cases to receive an invite to the Field of 68. One of those teams is BYU, owners of a prolific offense that is averaging 84.4 points per game, which ranks 1st in the country. The Cougars rely on a run-n-gun style that specializes in pinpoint three-point shooting and a tenacious transition attack. Portland isn’t part of the tourney conversation, but they have a chance to dash the Cougars’ hopes by springing the upset; the two teams combined to launch 128 shots in the December 29th meeting won by BYU 97-88. Tyler Haws, who leads the nation in scoring, scored 24 on that night and has totaled 20 or more in 12 of his last 13 starts. Here’s a preview and prediction for Thursday night’s matchup.

BYU AT PORTLAND +4.5

The Cougars have lost all three of their showdowns against Top 25 opponents by a combined 16 points. Close doesn’t count for much in college basketball, but narrow losses to quality competition does look good in the eyes of the selection committee. It also doesn’t hurt having a potent weapon like Haws and three other players netting over 13 points per game. One of said players, Chase Fischer, is dropping nearly three bombs from beyond the arc every time he takes the floor. BYU also excels at crashing the glass to gain extra possessions; guard/forward Kyle Collinsworth is pulling down 8.7 rebounds a night, while Haws is grabbing 4.3. They have size in the paint and a bench that goes 11 deep. Slowing their high-octane assault is futile, so Portland must find a way to outscore them.

The Pilots hung around in the first meeting without leading scorer Kevin Bailey, who sat out with an injured right foot. Bailey is back and fresh off a career high 30 in the overtime defeat at Pacific last Saturday. He along with backcourt mate Alec Wintering, who notched a career-high 30 of his own in that late December loss, must convert open looks, and three-point sniper Bryce Pressley can’t be shy about firing early and often. Portland’s best shot at keeping the margin tight will be to ratchet down the tempo and toss it inside to the senior duo of Thomas van der Mars and Volodymyr Gerun; both have decent post skills and each can work the boards They have lost two straight, but won three of four at home.

BYU is 13-15 ATS overall and 7-4 ATS on the road. Portland is 14-10-2 overall and 5-5-1 ATS at home. Bailey will make a difference for the Pilots, but they lack the firepower to cover the spread.

Bet BYU -4.5