San Francisco vs. Murray State Odds, Picks, and Predictions (3/17/22)

The 10th seeded San Francisco Dons of the West Coast Conference (WCC) get ready to square off against the 7th seeded Murray State Racers of the Ohio Valley Conference this Thursday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Murray State, the former school of Grizzlies star Ja Morant, is fresh off an Ohio Valley conference championship, beating Morehead State by 4 in the conference final. The Dons, meanwhile, come in off a 4th place finish in the WCC, losing to top seeded Gonzaga in the conference semis. These two teams have only squared off once before in the history of the NCAA with the Racers winning that matchup 70-67 on November 25, 2011. On the season, the Racers are 30-2 with a 237th place schedule while the Dons are 24-9 with a 79th place schedule.

San Francisco vs. Murray State Betting Odds

San Francisco Betting

The keys to this Dons team all season have been efficient three point shooting and gluey defense. Finishing 21st in 3 point attempts per game among Division I teams, Alabama is the only squad in this year’s tournament that shoots more threes per game than the Dons. Defensively, the Dons finished the season 21st overall and 18th among tournament teams in adjusted defensive rating allowing just 92.5 points per 100 possessions.

They are led by their two guards Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz who are averaging 16.7 and 14 points per game, respectively. 6’ 9” F Yauhen Massalski has been their third option in scoring and is one of the team’s defensive leaders.Head Coach Todd Golden likes to utilize Massalski away from the basket in high pick and roll situations though he isn’t much of a threat as a 3 point shooter.

There isn’t a whole lot of volatility with this Dons team. When they’ve played teams they should beat, they’ve beaten them soundly, and when they’ve played teams you’d expect them to lose to, like Gonzaga or St. Mary’s, they’ve consistently lost. Given their reliance on perimeter shooting, the biggest question mark for this team heading into the tournament is going to be whether or not they can find their stroke at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Thursday. If they can, they will likely come out victorious.

Murray State Odds

Murray St is one of just 13 teams in the country that ranks top 40 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Having rolled through the Ohio Valley, the Racers finished the season 30-2 losing only to Auburn and East Tennessee St. In totality, they haven’t lost a game since December 22nd.

What makes this team hard to judge is their weak schedule. The only team of note they played all season was Auburn, and, while they played them tight, they still lost by 13 points and struggled offensively. They’re led by F KJ Williams and the guard trio of Tevin Brown, Justice Hill, and Trae Hannibal — all of whom have been in the program for at least 2 years.

Defensively, Murray St employed a full court press in multiple spots throughout the regular season and in the conference tournament. Even when they aren’t pressing, their athletic guards always pick guys up right at half court and are constantly pestering the opposition on defense up-to 35 feet away from the basket. It will be interesting to see how this impacts a San Francisco team that likes to play on the perimeter offensively. The Dons are known more for their technical precision than their athleticism, so if this defensive style wears them down the advantage lies clearly with Murray St.

San Francisco vs. Murray State Picks & Prediction

I like the Murray St Racers as a short favorite here because they’re the team playing with more momentum that will also have a pronounced home court advantage in Indianapolis on Thursday. At -1, though, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of value on the spread. The bet I really like in this one is the under. Both teams play sound defense and Murray St, despite how prolific their offense can be, plays one of the slowest tempos in all of college basketball. Something we see year after year is how tempos naturally slow during March Madness with longer TV timeouts and just more timeouts in general. Factor in how physical both teams can be on the perimeter and around the rim and  I expect this to be the case on Thursday.

The most interesting matchup to watch will be that between the two forwards in KJ Williams and Yauhen Massalski. That battle will be a great barometer for each team’s success in the game at large.

March Madness Bracket

As a central Ohio native and lifelong Cleveland sports fan, Patrick Monnin has lived the emotional rollercoaster every sports fan knows all too well. Whether it be the Browns or the Buckeyes, he loves watching football and going on nice long runs in the afternoon. In the local Chicago area, where he now lives, he can often be found making the case for LeBron James as the greatest basketball player ever.

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