Arizona State to Abuse the Charity Stripe in Utah

Mark Lathrop

Sunday, January 7, 2018 2:23 PM UTC

Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 2:23 PM UTC

NCAAB handicapper Mark Lathrop shares a rare parlay play for Pac-12 action on Sunday night. Why do the Sun Devils have the advantage in Utah for his NCAAB picks?

NCAAB Sunday: Arizona State vs. Utah

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Free NCAAB Pick: Arizona State -2.5 (Over 158.5)Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

After all of the NFL action settles down from Wild Card weekend, we’ve got a Pac-12 matchup in the altitude of Utah where the fourth-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils look to avoid their third consecutive loss against the Utah Utes. Arizona State (12-2 SU) vaulted itself into national champion contender status with a 12-0 start and marquee wins against Xavier and Kansas. On the home side of this game, the Utes enter at 10-4 SU and 7-5 ATS, with quality wins over Missouri and Oregon. The opening NCAAB odds have the Sun Devils favored at -2.5 across the board, while the O/U total was at 158.5 at early moving books such as Bookmaker.

Arizona State’s struggles in their second and third road games of the season can be boiled down to their 3-point shooting, as they shot just 32 percent from range against Arizona and 27.3 percent in their overtime loss against Colorado. Arizona State won’t have it much easier against Utah, however, as they limit opponents to 30.3 percent 3-point shooting overall. Luckily for Arizona State, though, they don’t get the majority of their scoring from beyond the arc. For that, you have to go to the charity stripe where they are 16th in the country in scoring from the free-throw line. In most of their wins this season they have a significant advantage in free throws attempted, and that should be no exception Sunday night.

Being aggressive and getting to the free-throw line has been the recipe for beating Utah this season, as shown in their losses against UNLV, Butler, and Arizona. In their last game at home, Arizona played the refs like a fiddle, getting to the line 36 times and converting on 30 free throws. This was the reason that Arizona scored 94 points despite having just 60 attempts from the floor. Arizona State has two of the top free-throw shooters in the country in guards Tra Holder and Shannon Evans, so this strategy should be in full force.

It would not be a breakdown of a game without throwing out some meaningless stats, as the Utes are 6-0 ATS against the Sun Devils since 1997. Who cares. Three of Arizona State’s starters have never played on Utah’s home floor and two starters for Utah have not faced the Sun Devils at all (I won’t count the 2 minutes of floor time for Utah sophomore Jayce Johnson here).

I would find it hard to back the Utes in keeping Arizona State’s losing streak alive when a road map has been laid out to give the home team fits. And in this case, Arizona State is well equipped to be aggressive and take advantage. In addition, since the pace of the Sun Devils favors the over, and I am predicting many untimed scoring chances at the line, I believe the over has value as well. I will parlay both Arizona State and the over as my Sunday NCAAB picks.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 23-12, +11.15Units

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