Saint Mary’s vs BYU Basketball Prediction & Picks: Will the Gaels’ question for perfection end in Provo?
It has been mostly smooth sailing in West Coast Conference play for Saint Mary’s, who has won seven in a row to open their conference campaign.
But is a test coming tonight in Provo? Two weeks ago, BYU nearly upset Gonzaga at the Marriott Center, and they will be aiming to do more than come close tonight as they host the #22 Gaels (10:00 pm ET (8:00 pm local time, ESPN2).
Saint Mary’s (18-4, 7-0 West Coast Conference) enter tonight’s game on a nine-game win streak, and only one of those nine wins has come by fewer than ten points.
They will have to work to keep that hot streak going in Provo. BYU (14-9, 4-4 WCC) is unlikely to get back into the NCAA Tournament at-large picture, but the scare that they put into Gonzaga shows what they are capable of when things click.
But how likely is it that things will click tonight for the Cougars? Read on for our Saint Mary’s vs BYU basketball prediction and picks.
Saint Mary’s vs BYU Odds
Odds are via FanDuel as of Saturday, January 28, 2023, at 6:00 pm ET. This article may also include odds from our other recommended legal sports betting sites.
- Saint Mary’s -6.5 (-105)
- BYU +6.5 (-115)
- Over 129.5 (-110)
- Under 129.5 (-110)
- Saint Mary’s -265
- BYU +215
BYU Seeking Fifth Straight Home Win Over Saint Mary’s
Last season, the Cougars held the Gaels to a season-low in points in a 52-43 win in Provo. In that game, Saint Mary’s shot only 29.3% from the field overall and 17.4% from three.
It’s highly unlikely that this year’s BYU team will put in such a defensive performance, even though the Cougars rank 31st in the country in defensive efficiency.
But they couldn’t have been much better defensively against Gonzaga, and had they held out for just one more possession, they would have stunned the Bulldogs before Loyola Marymount did a week later.
In a seven-and-a-half-minute period in the second half, BYU held Gonzaga to just four points, flipping a 52-48 deficit into a 66-56 lead.
They weren’t able to close it out, but it should provide some confidence and motivation for tonight’s matchup against Saint Mary’s.
A different defensive gameplan is required against the Gaels than what is needed to beat the Bulldogs, but similar offensive execution would be ideal for the Cougars, who shot 48.3% (28 of 58) overall against Gonzaga, including 13 of 24 (54.2%) from three.
The one thing that BYU didn’t do against Gonzaga that they will absolutely need to do against Saint Mary’s is make their free throws. They were just 5 of 10 from the stripe against the Zags, and Jaxson Robinson’s late miss with the Cougars up two set the stage for Julian Strawther’s game-winning three.
When you have quality opposition on the ropes, you have to do the little things to finish them off, and BYU didn’t do that in the late stages against Gonzaga.
But in three games since the loss to Gonzaga, the Cougars have made 55 of 68 (80.9%) from the foul line, so they will enter tonight’s game in good form in an area that could prove to be very important.
Saint Mary’s vs BYU Prediction and Picks
Saint Mary’s vs BYU Prediction: BYU to win
Saint Mary’s vs BYU Picks: BYU +6.5 (Best Value: Caesars Sportsbook/BetRivers/BetMGM) & BYU team total over 61.5 (Best Value: Caesars Sportsbook)
It’s no secret that beating the Gaels is not an easy feat in the slightest.
But I don’t think Gonzaga will be the only team that beats Saint Mary’s in WCC play this season, and this is one of the places where a stumble is possible.
Beating the West Coast Conference’s premier programs may require vastly different approaches, but in the end, beating either team requires you to not let them control the game.
That’s obviously easier said than done, especially against Saint Mary’s and the way they can frustrate you. But there is a lot that BYU can take from their heartbreak against the Bulldogs that I think they will use to get over the hump tonight against the Gaels.
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