Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#701 BYU -2.5 vs.
#702 San Francisco 146
Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 5:00pm EST
Written by Chris Kubala

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#701 Brigham Young University
#702 University of San Francisco
15-6
14-7
13-7
8-11-1
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11-8-1
78
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It’s a battle of teams from the West Coast Conference on the floor up in the city by the bay. The BYU Cougars are on the road as they travel to face the San Francisco Dons Saturday afternoon. BYU comes in off a 74-60 road win over Pacific in their last contest Thursday night. San Francisco was upended 58-48 on the road by Saint Mary’s in their previous contest Thursday night. The Cougars own an 18-8 edge in the all-time series between the teams but the Dons have taken the last two meetings. That includes a 77-71 road win in the most recent matchup on February 21, 2019.

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BYU Cougars Look to Earn Back to Back Road Wins

BYU made a move in the offseason, bringing in Mark Pope to take over the reins behind the bench after four years at Utah Valley that saw the team improve from 12 wins in 2015-16 to 25 in 2018-19. The move has paid off as the Cougars are 15-6 overall this season and stand 4-2 in the WCC coming into this game. BYU took three of their first four games, including a road win over Houston. The Cougars dropped two of their next three, including a road defeat to Kansas. BYU won two straight before losing to Utah in overtime on the road. Since that loss, the Cougars have won nine of 11 with the two losses an overtime defeat on the road to Saint Mary’s and a 23-point defeat at Gonzaga.

The Cougars are putting up a hefty 78.4 points a game so far this season, putting them 31st in the nation in scoring offense. BYU is grabbing 33.3 boards per game and dishes out an average of 16.6 assists a night. The Cougars are slightly above average on the defensive end as they are 144th in the nation with 67.8 points per game allowed this year. Yoeli Childs leads the team with 21.5 points and 10 rebounds per contest. He has played just eight games this season and returned January 23 after missing four games with a compound dislocation of his right index finger. Jake Toolson (15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists) and TJ Haws puts up 13.5 points plus five assists a night. Connor Harding, Zac Seljaas, Dalton Nixon, Kolby Lee and Alex Barcello all average at least 6.6 points per game this season. BYU shoots 49.6 percent from the floor as a team. The Cougars sink 10.1 three-pointers per game while shooting 40.6 percent from downtown. BYU is average at the free throw line, sinking 70.8 percent of their chances this season.

On the season, the Cougars are an explosive offensive team and a solid defensive team according to KenPom. BYU is 12th in the nation in offensive efficiency and 70th in defensive efficiency this season. The Cougars are third in effective field goal percentage (57.1 percent), 21st in turnover percentage (16.2 percent), fourth in three-point percentage and 15th in two-point percentage (55 percent) this season. That offsets the fact that the Cougars struggle on the offensive glass as they are 346th by collecting boards on 20.2 percent of their misses. BYU is a fast-paced team as they are 126th in tempo with 69.3 possessions per game.

San Francisco Dons Try to Tame Cougars For Third Straight Time

San Francisco lost coach Kyle Smith before the season and promoted Todd Golden into his spot. The Dons haven’t missed a beat this season as they enter this contest 14-7 on the year and they stand 3-3 in WCC action after getting knocked off by Saint Mary’s. San Francisco started the year 7-0 before dropping two straight. The Dons won four of five after that only to follow it with three straight defeats. San Francisco’s loss at Portland on January 4 is an ugly one on the ledger but the Dons regrouped with three straight victories before falling to the Gaels.

The Dons enter this game 53rd in the nation in scoring offense with 77.3 points per game on the year. San Francisco is 187th in rebounding by pulling down 36.4 boards per contest while dishing out 12.4 assists a night, which is 269th in the country. The Dons are 204th in scoring defense as they allow 69.9 points per game on the season. Charles Minlend is leading the team with 15.1 points plus 4.3 rebounds per contest. Jordan Ratinho adds 9.1 points a night while Jamaree Bouyea chips in 13.4 points per contest. Jimbo Lull contributes 11.6 points plus 7.2 rebounds per game while Khalil Shabazz puts up nine points plus 3.3 boards per game. San Francisco shoots 45 percent from the field as a team on the season. The Dons knock down 9.8 triples per game while shooting 35.2 percent from beyond the arc on the year. San Francisco is good at the charity stripe, converting 72.5 percent of their attempts at the stripe this season.

The Dons are an aggressive offensive team according to KenPom.com this season. San Francisco is 51st in the nation in offensive efficiency, 47th in effective field goal percentage (52.9 percent), 124th in turnover percentage (18.6 percent) and 88th in offensive rebounding percentage (30.8 percent) this season. The Dons’ biggest weakness defensively is on the perimeter as they are 326th in three-point field goal percentage defense (37.6 percent), which could present a challenge here. San Francisco is an up-tempo team as they are 124th in the nation in tempo with 69.4 possessions per game.

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This one is going to be tough. While San Francisco has played well and swept BYU last season, the fact remains that the Dons are susceptible to giving up a lot of three-pointers. That plays into the Cougars’ wheelhouse as BYU loves to shoot from the outside to the point that it accounts for 38.5 percent of their offensive production this season, which is 30th in the nation. San Francisco is a solid team but the Dons are subpar on the defensive end. The return of Childs, coupled with the perimeter shooting of the Cougars, does enough to get BYU the road victory.

Prediction: BYU Cougars

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This is an offensive bonanza with a couple of good offensive units facing subpar defensive teams. The Cougars are sixth in the nation in field goal percentage to go with ranking fourth in three-point shooting. On the defensive end, San Francisco is 285th in field goal percentage defense (45 percent) and 326th in three-point field goal percentage defense. The Dons are 114th in field goal percentage offensively and 94th in three-point shooting. BYU is 204th in field goal percentage defense (43.2 percent) but they clamp down on perimeter shooting (51st at 29.9 percent) this season. This one is a high-scoring affair that pushes this one over the total.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.