It’s another WAC Wednesday and three teams will be in action. Utah Valley looks to keep the momentum going from its OT win on Monday. The defending WAC champs look to stay unbeaten early in the 2021-22 season. And one of the newcomers to the WAC looks to get back on track at home.
SoCal Challenge Continues for Utah Valley
Line per Draftkings Sportsbook: UVU +3, O/U 152.5
There is a saying in baseball that one swing of the bat can change the world. Well, perhaps in basketball, it is one shot that can change the world. Okay, perhaps not the world. But at least a season. It remains to be seen but the shot that UVU guard Connor Harding hit as time expired in regulation on Monday at Pepperdine may be just what the Wolverines needed.
UVU is missing its leading scorer from 2020-21 in Trey Woodbury. A knee injury had Woodbury sidelined until at least WAC play in January. And in the season opener at Boise State, it was apparent that Woodbury’s ability to score was missing.
On Monday night in Malibu, WAC Player of the Year Fardaws Aimaq did all he could to keep Utah Valley in the game. Aimaq was the only Wolverine in double figures up until Harding hit the 3 to send the game into overtime. And it was stated on social media that if any other Wolverine could provide some offensive spark, UVU would win the game going away. That’s exactly what happened. Harding finished with 18 points and Justin Harmon had 14 points in the win. Utah Valley was dominant in the overtime period, outscoring the Waves 15-3.
Now, the big question is, can the Wolverines replicate that overtime period over a 40-minute span? Harding has to stay hot from the perimeter and Harmon has to keep pushing the tempo and being aggressive. Le’Tre Darthard has had moments. Blaze Nield is a game manager who can knock down a shot every now and again. Tim Fuller compliments Aimaq. There are pieces in place. And luckily for UVU, the Wolverines get right back on the floor on Wednesday night at Long Beach State.
The Wolverines are the underdog again. At least according to the Sportsbooks. KenPom has the Wolverines winning their second straight game. We all know what Aimaq will do. But can Harding, Harmon and other Wolverines step up offensively as they did on Monday? Keep an eye on that. Tip off is at 8 p.m. MST on ESPN+.
Sam Houston Returns Home for Mid-Major Showdown
Line per Draftkings Sportsbook: Sam Houston +4.5, O/U 146
On Friday, Savion Flagg and the Bearkats nearly knocked off Nebraska in Lincoln. Flagg had 31 points and 11 rebounds in the 74-65 loss. No other Bearkat was in double figures. The Bearkats also shot just 37 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range in the loss.
Now, the Bearkats return home to take on Missouri State. The Bears have a KenPom ranking of 81 after splitting their first two games. Missouri State has four players averaging in double figures led by Isiaih Mosley at 23.5 points per game. The Bears also average 86 points per game.
So, who will step up besides Savion Flagg for Sam Houston? DeMarkus Lampley has the ability. Javion May is another Bearkat that has to have a big game on Wednesday in Huntsville. Wednesday night’s contest starts a difficult stretch for the Bearkats. It is the lone home contest over the next 10-12 days. Sam Houston goes to Florida for the Jacksonville Classic. The Bearkats will face Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday and either Boston University or Northern Illinois on Monday. Next Wednesday, the Bearkats are at SMU before finishing the road trip at Texas on Nov. 29.
So, getting this stretch started with a big home win and establishing confidence is key for the Bearkats. Game can be seen on ESPN+ at 6:30 p.m. MST.
Lopes Look to Keep Things Rolling in 2021-22
Line per Draftkings Sportsbook: GCU -13.5, O/U 132.5
Despite a mountain of changes to the roster, GCU has just continued its winning ways to start 2021-22. Head coach Bryce Drew has a few veterans left from the 2020-21 WAC championship team in Jovan Blacksher Jr., Gabe McGlothan, and Sean Miller-Moore. And despite losing four starters, the Lopes have reeled off back-to-back wins in blowout fashion to open the new season. On Wednesday night with Prairie View coming to town, it should be no different.
GCU changed the game plan for the 2021-22 season. The Lopes play a lot more up-tempo and push the pace. In 2020-21 with two big men in Asbjørn Midtgaard and Alessandro Lever, it was more of a half-court offensive game plan. And on top of that, GCU has been able to spread the ball around. Jovan Blacksher Jr. is the only Lope in double figures at 14 points per game. The Lopes are also solid on the defensive end, allowing just 52 points per game and holding opponents to 35 percent shooting from the field and the 3-point line.
Like it was said, it should be no different on Wednesday at GCU Arena. The sports books put the line at 13.5. KenPom has the Lopes winning by nine. Make your choices wisely. GCU is 2-0 against the spread so far this season. Game can be seen on ESPN+ with tip at 7 p.m. MST.