Wednesday's Best College Basketball Bet: BYU vs. Washington State Prediction

The BYU Cougars are facing off with Washington State tonight on ESPN2 in the NIT Quarterfinals. Ben Rajavuori gives his pick for tonight's best college basketball bet.
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Wednesday's Best College Basketball Bet: BYU vs. Washington State Prediction

The NIT Quarterfinals are here, and they are saving our NCAA Tournament drought by giving us a few exciting games for tonight. Both games feature teams that barely missed the big dance. The matchup I will be covering features the Cougars playing, uh... the Cougars. It's a battle of the mascots tonight, as the better Cougar will advance to the championship. Also, the higher seeds play at home because it's the NIT, so BYU will have another home game here. BYU is sitting around -130 on the money line as of now. Can Washington State pull off the slight upset?

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BYU vs. Washington State Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

  • Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2022
  • Game Time: 9:00 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: ESPN2
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BYU vs. Washington State Prediction

BYU had a so-so season going 9-6 in conference play and 21-9 overall. They couldn't make it past San Francisco in the conference tournament or get an at-large bid, but they strive to end the year positive in the NIT bracket. The Cougars glided through the first two rounds with little resistance against Long Beach or Northern Iowa, but they get a formidable opponent in Washington State tonight.

This BYU team works off strong rebounding and working inside the perimeter. The Cougars are seventh overall in offensive rebounding percentage allowed and are ninth overall in defensive rebounds per game. Their offense works best inside the perimeter, ranking 40th in mid-range field goal percentage and 24th in close-range field goal percentage. This matches up well against Washington State's defense, who rank worse in both those categories but defend better farther from the rim.

Washington State also had an average year, finishing 11-9 in conference play and 18-13 overall, but their first five games were against some pretty bad teams. Washington State did play in a slightly more difficult conference this year, but they didn't prove themselves against the top teams when the opportunities arose. In fact, in six quad-one games through the regular and postseason, they lost all six. Their first quad-one win came against SMU in their most recent game. This game against BYU will also be a quad-one game, which means they will have to win two quad-one games in a row to keep their season alive after not picking up one all season.

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The name of the game for Washington State is three-pointers and crashing the offensive glass. Washington state essentially lives from behind the arc. They are 23rd in three-point attempts per game (26.7) and 30th in three-pointers made per game (9). However, even with all the long-range shots, they are 173rd in three-point field goal percentage, which may explain their mediocrity this year. BYU also defends the perimeter well, ranking 33rd in opponent's three-point field goal percentage.

As far as the offensive glass goes, this is maybe the one bright spot for Washington State. Washington State is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, ranking 15th overall with eleven offensive boards per game. Unfortunately, this is one of the strongest areas of the BYU defense. As previously mentioned, BYU is seventh overall in opponent's offensive rebounding percentage allowed. Mark Pope has always coached teams that box out very well, so it's safe to assume that Washington State may have some trouble relying on second-chance points more than they usually do.

This game seems like a bad matchup for Washington State. The most vital points of their game are the areas BYU counters best. BYU doesn't do anything horrible but also doesn't really excel anywhere. They are an above-average, well-balanced team. If Washington State could have picked up even one quad-one win throughout the year, maybe I could make a case for them today, but they haven't proven they can win two in a row to me. BYU is also 14-2 at home this year, with one of those losses being against Gonzaga. With how much Washington State shoots from outside, they could go 50% from three and pull off the upset, but with how well BYU defends the perimeter, I don't see that happening. BYU will knock off Washington State tonight and advance to the semifinal.

BYU vs. Washington State Pick

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Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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