There are few sure things in college basketball but in recent years, the Brigham Young Cougars defeating the Utah State Aggies is about as close as you are going to get. BYU has won nine straight games against Utah State and covered against the college basketball spreads in the last eight.
Utah State has been getting close, as the Aggies have lost by four and three points in the last two meetings.
Utah State (+500) is third in the odds to win the Mountain West title and a win over rival Brigham Young could prove beneficial moving forward for the Aggies.
Brigham Young is No. 24 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll and is at +8000 while Utah State is at +12000 in the odds to win March Madness.
Game: Utah State Aggies (6-2) at Brigham Young Cougars (7-1)
Location: Marriott Center
Day/Time: Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET
Television: BYU TV
Utah State Aggies vs Brigham Young Cougars Betting Lines
|Utah State Aggies||+6 (-110)||+230||141 (-110o)|
|Brigham Young Cougars||-6 (-110)||-270||141 (-110u)|
Bean a Force for Utah State Aggies
Justin Bean often gives up a few inches to his opponents going after rebounds but more often than not, the 6-foot-7 Bean is the one who comes down with the missed shot. The senior is third among Division I players with an average of 12.5 rebounds per game, is seventh with an average of four offensive rebounds and is tied with Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq and Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe for the Division I lead with seven double-doubles.
“It’s weird sometimes, you notice him, but you don’t notice him and then all of a sudden, he’s got 24 and 10,” Utah State coach Ryan Odom said of Bean. “He’s just a special player, a special human being.”
Bean can do more than just come down with rebounds. He is averaging 22.1 points and is the only Division I player to shoot better than 65 percent from the field, 55 percent on three-pointers and 85 percent from the foul line. He also leads the team with 14 steals and is tied for second with 23 assists.
Bean has scored in double figures in every game for 6-2 Utah State and has had at least 10 rebounds in all but one game. He’s doing all of this while not attempting more than 19 shots in any game.
Utah State has only one other double-digit scorer so getting other Aggies to contribute will be a key moving forward.
Utah State has covered against the college basketball spreads in four of its last five games.
Loss of Baxter is Big for BYU Cougars
This has been a season of adjustment for the Brigham Young Cougars.
BYU head coach Mark Pope already knew he was going to have to replace two of the team’s three double-digit scorers from a season ago, as Brandon Averett and Matt Haarms contributed 11.7 and 11.3 points per game.
Gavin Baxter, who was limited to just two games last season, and Richard Harward were among the players expected to provide support for Alex Barcello, the Cougars’ leader in both scoring and assists last season.
However, a heart issue has kept Harward off the court all season and Baxter suffered a torn ACL earlier this month.
Without the 6-foot-11 Harward and the 6-foot-9 Baxter, BYU has needed to resort to some small ball.
Caleb Lohner is the healthy BYU player taller than 6-6 to start a game for the Cougars this season.
“We’re not going to be the biggest team out on the floor most games,” Barcello recently told the media. “We need to continue to be physical. One of our main keys going into every game is, ‘Can we beat them out on the defensive boards and can we beat them out on the offensive boards?’”
Even without Baxter, the Cougars do have four other players with at least 10 offensive reboundsm including Lohner, who has a team-high 20 offensive rebounds. Fousseyni Traore comes off the bench and is BYU’s second-leading rebounder.
BYU is 6-1 against the Las Vegas odds in its last seven games against Mountain West teams.
Expect Down-to-the-Wire Battle
Utah State has been inching closer and closer to taking down in-state rival Brigham Young. Is this the time when the Aggies come out on top for the first time since a 69-62 win in 2011, when the scores and odds listed the Aggies as one-point favorites?
The total has gone under in five of the last six meetings between the teams and we are thinking the game will go under the 141-point total even if the total has gone over in six of Utah State’s last seven games.