NCAA Basketball Picks: Portland vs. BYU

Darin Zank

Monday, March 9, 2015 1:25 PM GMT

BYU is probably “in” for the NCAA tournament, but won't want to leave any doubts with a stumble against Portland in a WCC tournament semifinal bout Monday night in Las Vegas. We've got a lean on the spread for this one, and thought we'd share it here.

Pilots-Cougars Betting Odds
The NCAA Basketball odds opened this game with BYU favored by eight points, the total offered at right around 154. In the early betting many shops bumped the Cougars to -8.5.

Those who believe Portland might win this game outright could get +335 on the moneyline at Bookmaker.

 

Pilots-Cougars: Game Set-Up
BYU finished second in the WCC this season at 13-5 in conference play, while Portland finished in a tie for sixth place at 7-11. The Cougars seem to have a nice case for an NCAA tournament at-large bid, while the Pilots have one hope; win tonight, then upset either Gonzaga or Pepperdine tomorrow night in the WCC tournament championship game.

Brigham Young has won seven games in a row, after surviving Santa Clara Saturday 78-76. The Cougars, favored by 12 points, never could shake the Broncos, who hit 10 of 22 on 3-pointers to keep things interesting.

That was actually the first time BYU didn't cover a spread in over a month.

Two Saturdays ago the Cougars picked up a much-needed quality victory, upsetting Gonzaga in Spokane 73-70, taking that game straight-up as 13-point underdogs. That victory probably earned BYU an invitation to the Big Dance.

Portland won four games in a row back in early February, then closed its regular season with four straight losses. But the Pilots reached Monday night's WCC tournament semifinal by pulling a 69-52 upset of St. Mary's Saturday, taking that game outright as six-point underdogs. Portland shot 50 percent from the floor, and hit 19 of 26 free-throws, while holding the Gaels to just 30 percent FG shooting.

However, might a performance like that just set the Pilots up for a “fade” play their next time out?

For More Betting Action, Check Out These Two NCAA Basketball Picks

Pilots-Cougars Recent History
Over the last four seasons BYU has taken seven of eight meetings from Portland, including an 82-69 decision 11 days ago, covering as a three-point favorite on the road. The Cougars actually trailed that game 41-33 at the half, then took over in the second half. On the night the Pilots out-shot BYU from the floor 45 percent to 44 percent, but Portland turned the ball over 19 times, compared to the Cougars' nine turnovers.

That game stayed UNDER its total of 155.

 

Pilots-Cougars Key Stats
Portland is shooting 44 percent from the field this season, 39 percent from 3-point range, which is very respectable, and 71 percent from the FT line. The Pilots are also holding opponents to less than 43 percent FG shooting.

BYU is shooting 47 percent from the floor, 39 percent from 3-point land and 77 percent from the line, which is super for a college team. The Cougars are also holding foes to 43 percent FG shooting.

 

Pilots-Cougars Betting Trends
Portland is 11-9 on the totals this season, as Pilots games have averaged 138 points. But they've also played seven UNDERS in their last 10 games, in part because they've been playing some decent defense.

BYU is 14-11 on the totals, as Cougars game have averaged 154 points. But they also have played seven UNDERS over their last 10 games, in part because they've been tagged with some large totals.

 

Pilots-Cougars Free Pick
Portland just pulled a nice upset Saturday, but we won't be surprised if the Pilots experience a letdown tonight. Also, BYU just beat Portland 11 days ago, and not much has changed since then. So we'll go with Cougars tonight, giving the points with our NCAA Basketball Picks.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: BYU -8 at BookMaker

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