College Basketball Betting: Stanford at Utah

College Basketball Betting: Stanford at Utah

Two of the Pac-12’s top teams will do battle on Thursday night in college hoops when the Stanford Cardinal pay a visit to Salt Lake City to play No. 11 Utah. The Cardinal will have to finish strong to warrant serious consideration for the NCAA Tournament. Victories over Texas and Washington don’t look nearly as good as they did six weeks ago since both teams have tumbled down the rankings, although solid defeats to Duke and Arizona might help balance the scales. The Utes are 1-3 against Top 25 competition, but they are 13-0 at home with only Wichita State losing by fewer than 14 points. They are definitely tourney bound, however, the conference title is still up for grabs. Here’s a preview and prediction for tonight’s action.

STANFORD AT UTAH -11.5

Johnny Dawkins’ senior-laden roster has been a slight disappointment coming off last season’s run to the South Regional Semifinal. Many of their problems can be attributed to shoddy defense, especially versus quality offensive attacks such as Duke, BYU, and Arizona. The senior trio of Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown, and Stefan Nastic are carrying the load; Randle and Brown have combined to convert 111 three-pointers, so getting them clean looks will be critical to springing the upset. They are 4-4 on the road and four of the last five losses were by less than six points. Similar to Coach K’s Blue Devils, Dawkins prefers an up tempo pace fueled by transition baskets and perimeter shooting. That style of play will be challenged by Utah’s 9th ranked scoring defense, which yields few uncontested shots.

Besides executing a stellar defense, Utah also boasts one of the country’s top shooting squads. Senior guard Delon Wright leads them in scoring, but backcourt mate Brandon Tyler has been lights out from beyond the arc of late, making 23 threes in his last six games, including a 6-9 performance in Saturday’s victory over Colorado. Seven-foot freshman big man Jakob Poeltl has been a force in the paint, in particular as a rim protector with 40 blocks in 21 games. Believe it or not, the Utes haven’t qualified for the Field of 68 since 2009. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak has quietly built an up and coming program since being hired in 2011 that has bought into his defense/discipline first philosophy. With the Pac-12 struggling as a whole in recent years, Utah is angling to become a regular fixture atop the standings.

Stanford is 11-11-1 ATS overall and 5-5 ATS on the road. Utah is 16-5 ATS overall and 9-3 ATS at home. The Cardinal have an experienced roster with plenty of spotlight games under their belt, but the Utes are downright dominant in their house. That said, this seems like a lot of points.

Bet Stanford +11.5