The Mountain West Conference has continually shown it is one of the most entertaining mid-major conferences in college basketball this season. A few more conference match-ups will occur tonight, including Fresno State taking on Boise State. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’ll be targeting the point total in this one.
Fresno State will come into tonight off their third conference win of the season, as they were able to take down UNLV 76-63. That win was only the fourth time the Bulldogs scored over 70 points this season, as they are only averaging 60.9 points per game.
Second leading scorer Isaiah Hill had a season-high 28 points in the win over UNLV, providing a scoring spark the Bulldogs have been looking for. Hill is only averaging 10.2 ppg this season, but he’s managed to shoot 40% or higher in three of the last four conference games, so he could be emerging into a scoring role that has been absent on the team all year.
Defense has been the primary strength of Fresno State for the majority of the season, as their 99.4 defensive efficiency rating ranks 96th in the country, according to KenPom. They will undoubtedly need another big defensive showing tonight against a Boise State team that has scored 77 or more points in their last five games and is shooting 35.9% from three.
The Broncos are ranked 90th in the country in offensive rating on KenPom and will enter tonight off a tough overtime loss to New Mexico State. Leading scorer Tyson Degenhart scored 28 points in the game, and over his last ten games, he is shooting 53.6% from the field, so the Bulldogs will need to do everything possible to slow him down.
Boise State is also a solid defensive team this season; in fact, they are 9th in the country in defensive efficiency rating, according to KenPom. Until their recent loss in which they allowed 81 points, the Broncos held five straight opponents under 68 points.
The current point total for this game can be found at 126.5, and I’ll be taking the over as my best bet. Despite both sides having solid defenses, I think this total is just a bit too low, and Boise State possesses the offensive ability to put up a big scoring performance. All seven of the Broncos' conference games have gone over this season, and this will be the lowest total set since that streak began.
One area of defense in which Fresno State has not been great is limiting their opponent’s three-point shooting, which could be a significant issue for them tonight. The Broncos have two players in their starting line-up that are shooting above 44.4% from three over their last ten games. One of those players is 17 for 29 over his previous five games, so he’ll have another opportunity to put up a big scoring performance in this one.
Fresno State has had four of their last five games go over the point total, as their recent offensive success has been critical to some recent higher-scoring games. The Bulldogs are coming into tonight after shooting 54% from the field in their most recent game, and if they can continue that shooting into tonight, then I think the over will be very profitable.