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08.03.2024

Pepperdine vs. San Diego Game Preview and Pick: Pepperdine Rides Wave of Momentum

You could either win a game or dominate a game, and what Pepperdine did to Pacific yesterday was nothing short of dominant. There are a lot of storylines to keep track of during conference tournament time. Still, people didn’t need to scroll long on social media to see everyone talking about how badly Pepperdine was beating Pacific.

With their 59-point opening-round win behind them, the Waves now need to focus on the five-seed San Diego Toreros. Momentum is important in March, and Pepperdine certainly has a lot of it now, so I think they can build an early lead tonight over a Toreros team that hasn’t played a game in a while.

Game Preview

Momentum can come and go instantly, and Pepperdine is a great example of that. To round out the regular season, the Waves lost their final two games, scored under 70 points in each of them, found out their coach was getting fired at the end of the season, and their third-leading scorer, Houston Mallette, announced he was transferring.

None of those things are what you want before the postseason, but all of them combined are a disaster. However, Pepperdine walked into the 8/9 game of the WCC Tournament yesterday and beat Pacific 102-43. By halftime, the Waves were up 56-9, and by the end of the game, Jevon Porter and Michael Ajayi combined for 49 points.

If Pepperdine was going to make any sort of run in this tournament, it needed to come from their offense. They entered the postseason ranked 9th in the conference in effective field goal percentage allowed and 8th in adjusted defensive efficiency rating, per Bart Torvik. One of the Waves' lone solid defensive games came in a loss to San Diego on January 27th, which gave them a series split with the Toreros.

Ironically, San Diego’s most recent win was also against Pacific. The Toreros finished the regular season with an 81-69 win, ending a three-game losing streak. Steve Lavin’s team was the opposite of Pepperdine this season in the sense that the Toreros were an average defensive team and a below-average offensive team.

In fact, before they beat Pacific on March 2nd, San Diego had gone three straight games without breaking the 70-point mark. That stretch of poor offensive performances had led San Diego to enter this tournament ranked 8th in the conference in both adjusted offensive effeciency and effective field goal percentage.

Pick for the Game

Despite being the higher seed, Pepperdine is listed as (-3.5) point favorites for this matchup, but for my play, I’ll be taking their first-half number of (-1.5). Unfortunately, fans of both teams who live in CA will be unable to bet on this game due to California sports betting legislation, but all other bettors should look to take advantage of Pepperdine’s momentum early.

San Diego has not played in six days, and when they play after having 4+ days off this season, they are 2-8 ATS. The Toreros play better when facing live competition more frequently, so having to sit for six days and then play an offense that scored 100 points yesterday is not ideal. It’s especially not ideal since the Toreros ranked 336th in the country in first-half points allowed per game and 203rd in 1H points scored per game, per Team Rankings.

Defensively, the Toreros ranked 8th in the conference in opponent two-point percentage and 270th in near-proximity field goal percentage allowed, per Haslametics, so Pepperdine should able to continue their success from inside the three-point line. On offense, the Toreros don’t have a lot of strengths, and the problem for them tonight is Pepperdine has the rebounding advantage, so if they are held to one shot per possession, it may be difficult for them to keep pace early.

Recap

  • Pepperdine Waves 1H (-1.5)(-115) on DraftKings

*odds subject to change

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