NCAA Men’s Basketball Winning Picks: BYU at Air Force

Brigham Young University Cougars at Air Force Falcons
Feb 9, 2011 at 10 PM EST
Opening Line:  BYU -10.5
Current Line:  BYU -10.0
Opening Total: 138.5
Current Total: 138.5
Opening Moneyline:  BYU -550 / AF +450
Current Moneyline:  BYU -625 / AF +475

Fredette and the Cougars are favored by 10 tonight against the Air Force

Jimmer Fredette has his lowest scoring average against any conference opponent against the Air Force.  Good defense?  Unlikely.  The Cougars are winning by an average of 17.9 points per game against the Air Force during Fredette’s tenure as a Cougar and there’s really no reason to expect much to be different tonight.  Fredette just became the all time Mountain West Conference leading scorer, but may not extend that lead by much given the fact that he’ll probably get some rest tonight as the reserves get more burn in what should be a blowout.

Last game between the teams, Fredette scored 22, which is below his season average, but it was still enough for the Cougars to win by 10.  “Jimmer is just uncanny,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. “You can play him tough and he still gets his points. The minute you relax on him he makes shots. He is just a terrific player.”

Some betting trends:

BYU is 6-1 SU in their last 7 road games and the total has gone OVER In 5 of their last 6 on the road.  BYU is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games on the road against the Air Force.

The Air Force is 8-2 SU in their last 10 home games and they are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 against BYU.  The Air Force is 0-5 SU in their last 5 against the Cougars and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games against BYU.  The Air Force is 1-4 SU in their last 5 home games against BYU, as well.

The Air Force Falcons are led by the duo of Michael Lyons and Tom Fow, who combine for 25.2 points per game (38% of the Falcons’ total offensive output).  Lyons, a 6’6″ sophomore shooting guard, is averaging 12.7 points per game to lead the Falcons.  He’s also contributing 2.1 assists per game and 3.8 boards.  He’s scored in double figures in 13 of the 21 games in which he has played but has scored just 13 points over the last two games (a 5 point win over Utah and a 14 point loss to New Mexico).  The Air Force is going to need Lyons to return to form tonight to have any chance against the BYU Cougars.  If he could play the way he played against Utah on January 5th, they shouldn’t have much of a problem.  That night, he put up 26 against the Utes in an 8 point Air Force victory.  6’4″ senior point guard Evan Washington leads the Falcons in minutes played with 32.5 minutes a game.  He puts up a good all around statline of 7.8 points per game, 4.0 apg, 4.6 rpg.  Over the last four games, however, he is only averaging 4.0 points per game.  While the Falcons don’t ordinarily depend on Washington to score, they’re going to need some kind of scoring contribution on his part to win tonight, given the fact that to beat BYU they will need the very best of every player on their team.

BYU, as most know, are led by Jimmer Fredette, but beyond Fredette they have some good players, as well.  They’re not a one man team, as many try to accuse them of being.  The trio Jackson Emery, Brandon Davies, and Noah Hartsock combine for 33 points and the Cougars employ an 8 man rotation.  Emery, a 6’3″ senior guard, the backcourt mate of Fredette, is averging 12.4 points per game and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 37.7% from behind the arc (63 of 167).  He’s scored in double figures in 16 of the 24 Cougars’ games and has had four games with 20+.  If BYU is to advance deep in March, it might not necessarily be Fredette that is the reason why.  Emery stepping up would give the Cougars a tough backcourt to deal with and could make the difference against the other top teams in the country.  Emery and Fredette’s shooting could be enough to take BYU to the Final 4.

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