There will be a pair of undefeated records on the line when No. 18 BYU travels to Utah on Saturday night for their annual rivalry matchup. The Cougars are coming off a blowout win over Texas Southern, improving to 5-0 overall. Utah is also 5-0 after beating Tulsa to win Bracket 1 at the Sunshine Slam.
Cougars hoping for another big winNo. 18 BYU is off to a fantastic start to the season as it heads into a three-game road trip. The Cougars opened the year with wins over Cleveland State and San Diego State. Their really impressive victory came in an 81-49 blowout over No. 12 Oregon 10 days ago, despite entering the game as 4.5-point underdogs. They added a win over Texas Southern on Wednesday, but they did not cover the 19.5-point spread in an 81-64 final. BYU will now play Utah, Utah Valley State and Missouri State in three straight road games.
𝐍𝐄𝐗𝐓 𝐔𝐏: ʙʏᴜ ᴠs ᴜᴛᴀʜ pic.twitter.com/jg5pPXSS0u— BYU Men's Basketball (@BYUMBB) November 27, 2021
The Cougars rank No. 24 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency ratings. Their one struggle on the offensive end has been outside shooting, where they are knocking down just 28.6% of their attempts. They are going to face a Utah defense that is No. 62 in adjusted efficiency and is No. 10 in opponent’s effective field goal percentage. Guard Alex Barcello leads the team with 18.8 points and 3.2 assists per game. Guard Tejon Lucas is the only other player in double figures, averaging 10.0 points per contest. He is the top distributor with 5.0 assists per outing.
Utes looking to remain unbeatenUtah is off to a fantastic start as well, winning all five of its games. The Utes have only failed to cover the spread in one of those contests—a 68-61 win over Boston College as 7.5-point favorites last week. They were still able to get through to the championship of Bracket 1 at the Sunshine Slam, though, where they beat Tulsa by 14 points. Utah took the lead less than seven minutes into the first half and never trailed again. The Utes only shot 25.9% from the 3-point line, but they shot 44.4% from the floor overall.
This begins a challenging stretch for Utah, which has games against No. 24 USC, TCU and Missouri on deck in December. The Utes rank No. 79 in adjusted offensive efficiency. Their strength has been on the offensive glass, pulling down the eighth-most offensive boards of any team in the country. They are going to face a BYU defense that is No. 34 in adjusted efficiency. Center Branden Carlson leads the team with 15.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Guard David Jenkins Jr. is scoring 14.8 points, while guard Both Gach is also in double figures with 10.0 points per game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
BYU is the better team on both ends of the court, so I will gladly take them as a 1-point favorite in this game. The Cougars have already shown that they have the ability to take it up a notch in bigger games. They took it to a ranked Oregon team for 40 minutes and will be fully motivated against an undefeated rival on Saturday night. Utah is not shooting the ball well from the outside and that is not going to change against a BYU perimeter defense that ranks first in the country. The Cougars have covered in four of the last five meetings between these teams.
Full-Game Total Pick
BYU plays at one of the slowest paces in college basketball, but its offense is so efficient that it will still be able to get this game over the total. The Cougars are shooting the ball well from most spots on the floor and are facing a Utah defense that does not force many turnovers. The Utes play at a very fast tempo, trying to get out in transition as often as possible. They give themselves plenty of extra opportunities on the offensive glass as well. Utah has gone over the total in six of its last nine games dating back to last season.