We’ve had some tough losses with the spotlight games recently, but we got one back on Friday night with Utah Valley just barely covering the number against UTRGV. We’ll take any one we can get and head into Saturday with a 3-2 mark for this week going into our next game.
That game will be a late one between San Francisco and Pacific. If you listened to ATS Radio on Monday, you heard that San Francisco was a play-on team for Thursday against BYU and they did cover the number. Let’s see what happens in this one, with Pacific now a small one-point favorite in this West Coast Conference clash. The total is 134.5 per Bookmaker Sportsbook.
San Francisco Dons
San Francisco is one of the most analytically-minded teams in college basketball. The Dons take a ton of threes and sell out to defend the three-point line. They are fully embracing the metrics movement that has taken hold in the NBA and has actually led some people to criticize that style of play.
San Francisco will chuck from anywhere. Tod Golden’s team takes a three-pointer on almost 51% of its shot attempts. That mark ranks second in the nation. The problem for USF is that their 34.5% 3P% is good, but not great. It ranks well into the upper half of the teams across college basketball, but you’d like to see it higher.
One of the reasons why San Francisco was viewed as a buy team is that the Dons came off of a COVID pause recently and only made 24 of their 97 attempts over a three-game stretch. They did better against BYU, making 12-of-36 in the loss, but 33.3% was still below their season average.
The Dons also run teams off the three-point line. Opponents take a three at the fifth-lowest rate in the nation. San Francisco’s defense is good, not great, holding foes to 49.8% on twos and 33.4% on threes. The trouble you run into defensively with San Francisco is that the Dons foul a ton. They extend every game that they are losing late and rank 323rd in the nation in FT Rate on defense.
They also don’t get to the line a lot themselves because they are taking so many three-pointers. They can be a frustrating team to bet on to be sure.
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Pacific is 8-8 for the season overall and 5-7 in conference play for head coach Damon Stoudamire. The Tigers haven’t really beaten anybody better than they are over the course of the season, including a couple of lopsided losses to Gonzaga and BYU. Credit to Pacific for taking BYU to overtime once in the two meetings, but that is really the closest that they have come to a signature win.
Loyola Marymount, albeit to a lesser degree, also takes a lot of threes and plays a similar sort of style to San Francisco. The Tigers split with them. The first game was played to 107 points on 71 possessions. The second game was played to 156 points on just 60 possessions, so those two games really could not have gone differently.
Pacific only shoots a three 28.6% of the time, so running the Tigers off of the three-point line seems like something of a fool’s errand. Pacific doesn’t want to shoot threes anyway, so we’ll see how USF adjusts the defense in what will be the first and only regular season meeting between the two teams.
The Tigers are a bad shooting team at the free throw line as well, so this could be a bit of an ugly game, especially if USF isn’t making shots. The Tigers take good care of the basketball and attack the defensie glass well, but don’t really stand out much offensively or defensively in too many other ways.
Pick & Analysis
It is a little bit surprising to see money filtering in on a Pacific team that will be forced to score by twos when San Francisco has more of a chance to score by threes. Opponents are shooting 36.2% on triple tries against the Tigers defense.
As a result, I’ll go against the grain with the line move here and take a look at San Francisco to come away with the victory. Pacific has not played well against equal or superior competition. I’m not sure if the Dons are superior, but if they shoot the ball better than they have been, and they could very well do that, then they should prevail tonight.