Some fan bases will have to hold back tears when watching Nevada Vs. Arizona State, two bubble teams that fended off the ones who didn’t make the cut. It’s projected to be a fun one as the Wednesday night main event with the Sun Devils being a -2.5 favorite. Backed behind an elite defense to fend off the trio of Nevada scoring threats, my prediction is that we are in for a defensive slugfest with the under showing some value.
Nevada Vs. Arizona State Prediction
While most of the nation watched Selection Sunday in confusion of why the Nevada Wolfpack snagged a bid, they would be shocked to see that they actually rank 43rd in Adjusted Efficiency Margin per Kenpom. They are a well-balanced unit on both ends of the court, ranking 70th or better in both Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. While oddsmakers have tempered their expectations of them pulling out the win, their defense will need to take center stage should they want to get the upset victory.
Nevada’s defensive ability is a key metric to watch for our under ticket, especially since the Sun Devils are an average unit at best when on offense. Ranked 133rd in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, the Sun Devils struggles can be rooted back to their inability to find consistent shooting. The shooting is so bad that they rank 308th in Effective Field Goal Percentage. Not just in one area of the floor either, Arizona State’s struggles from all levels on offense by shooting a lowly 41.3%.
They are not much better from the perimeter either, completing at a 31.4% rate. This bodes well for Nevada as they hold opposing perimeter production to a lowly 32.5%, good for 87th in the nation per TeamRankings. Their three-point defensive percentage actually has improved as of late as well, lowering to 30.5% with another perimeter friendly matchup on deck. Take away the hot shooting ASU had in their must win matchup against USC and their average sits at 31% in their previous three games.
Nevada’s defensive assignments also get more simplistic when you break down Arizona State’s offensive production, relying heavily on Desmond Cambridge Jr and DJ Horne to carry the scoring success. Both were held to below 10 points each, making it apparent how anemic their offense can look without them in a blowout against Arizona. It’s not as if Arizona poses a defensive threat either as they have serious issues defending the mid-range with spacing issues. Those issues were negated with the Sun Devils inability to shoot the ball.
Nevada Vs. Arizona State Prediction: Under 133.5
Nevada Vs. Arizona State Odds
Oddsmakers initially had this as a tight contest, opening the Sun Devils as a -1.5 favorite. Like the public’s reaction, bettors are perplexed how the Wolfpack got a bid and have backed the Sun Devils up to -2.5. This is where it gets intriguing to me as this line should actually be flipped per projections. Kenpom has it -2 in Nevada’s favor, giving value towards the current number. I will wait to see how high this can go before putting a potential position on the Wolfpack.
As for the total, oddsmakers believed points would be scored at a moderate pace as they opened the number at 134.5. That has since dipped down to 133.5 with bettors like me siding with both defensive abilities to limit each other’s scoring output. While not happy I missed out on the opener, I would still play this down to 132.5 for a smaller wager.
Nevada Vs. Arizona State Key Matchups
Arizona State havoc defense vs Nevada ball security
While Nevada is much more efficient on the offensive end than the Sun Devils, they still have serious issues outside their top three scorers. While they rank 61st in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, their shooting numbers hamper that number by being below average in the nation.
Shooting 190th in eFG% with league average two-point and three-point percentages, their offensive success is heavily based on their ability to limit turnovers. Nevada’s top-25 metric in turnovers per game is a key reason why I believe the under will cash in my Nevada Vs. Arizona State prediction.
With less turnover comes less fast break opportunities with a high probability of scoring. Quick points in transition are an easy way to burn an under ticket, giving us added security against scoring variance.
Take the under at no lower than 132.5 as this game script calls for a defensive slugfest.