Why You Should Back Santa Clara at Home vs Nevada

Santa Clara Broncos

Rainman M.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 3:42 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 3:42 PM UTC

Santa Clara (1-0) hosts Nevada (2-0) Wednesday at 7 PM. The visiting Wolfpack are favored by 5.5. Nevada is getting love from oddsmakers, should you share the sentiment? 

 

Nevada Wolf Pack vs Santa Clara Broncos

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Free NCAAB Pick: Santa Clara +5.5Best Line Offered: HeritageNevada

Nevada, who qualified last season for the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years, is receiving a lot of love from oddsmakers, who are projecting them to win the Mountain West title again.

However, the Wolfpack lost a lot, especially in the backcourt. Senior guards Marcus Marshall and DJ Fenner had averaged 19.7 and 13.7 points per game respectively.

Starting at point guard will now be Lindsey Drew, who averaged 5.9 points per game. He has played in his career as a point guard, shooting guard and small forward. This year, he will be expected to finally establish himself at a single position.

Nevada will rely on power forward Jordan Caroline for most of their offensive production. He is a skilled playmaker, who can drop 40 point performances on a great night, and an important rebounder. But while he scores a lot of points, he also gives up relatively many on defense.

 

Santa Clara

The Broncos lost their top player, Jared Brownridge, and his 18.1 points per game. But they return significant leadership in the backcourt.

Junior Matt Hauser, who started at point guard and scored in double figures in Santa Clara's tournament win against San Francisco and respectable single-digit loss to Gonzaga, returns at the helm.

The most important return is a healthy KJ Feagin, who contributed to SC's improvement from an 11-win to a 17-win team last season. He improved in statistically almost every category. Most notably, he shot from 49% behind the arc. Always reliable with free-throws, he has been working on driving more to the basket in order to draw fouls.

Crucial for stopping Caroline and controlling the glass will be 6-10 center Emmanuel Ndumanya. He earned increasing playing time towards the end of last season, including a four-game stretch in February where he averaged over 10 rebounds per game.

 

The Verdict

Experience matters in the early season. For Nevada, Drew is being asked to take a huge increase in responsibility by settling himself at the point. Guard Kendall Stephens did not play last season. Forward Cody Martin transferred from a different program. Center Elijah Foster played only in the beginning of last season before getting injured. Santa Clara's players don't have to undergo the same level of adjustment because most of them already know how to execute Coach Sendek's slow-paced scheme.

Nevada likes to run at a faster pace. In the past two years, Eric Musselman's Wolfpack ranked in the top 90 in terms of tempo, while Sendek's Broncos typically rank outside the top 300 in this category. Santa Clara's experienced guards should succeed in controlling tempo because they are reliable at avoiding turnovers and because they are at home. 

Santa Clara's strength at the guard position will likely force Nevada to play with a smaller lineup and prevent the Wolfpack from exploiting their advantage in size. Ndumanya, despite being a senior, is still a relatively raw talent. The improving senior will prove a force on the glass and provide continuity for a Broncos' team that ranked 14th last season in offensive rebounds allowed.

Back Santa Clara for their experience, their better guard play, the expectation that they control tempo and their competitiveness defensively around the rim on our NCAAB Picks.

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