Fresno State may be on one of the tournament’s longest winning streaks, but the Mountain West champions face a tough matchup against Utah and one of the nation’s best big men. Many casual fans will be seeing sophomore Jakob Poeltl for the first time, but the seven-foot Austrian is looking to make a deep tournament run before becoming a lottery pick this summer.
Here’s a look at the odds, courtesy of OddsShark.com:
Spread: Utah (-9)
Moneyline: Utah (-450), Fresno State (+375)
If the Bulldogs want to prove that they belong in March Madness, they’ll need to take care of the ball and clog the middle. The first part should be easy, as Fresno State do a great job of ball security and play and have an efficient offense led by Marvelle Harris. Averaging over 20 points per game, Harris was the Mountain West Player of the Year and is the leading scorer in Fresno State history.
They can also run, which would help mitigate a big man like Poeltl. Utah players have compared FSU’s style to Oregon, who beat Utah by 31 in the Pac-12 championship. The Bulldogs only lost by five at Oregon back in November, so an upset today wouldn’t be a complete shock. Fresno State could put up a fight early, but unless Poeltl gets into foul trouble the Utes will have a major advantage.
If there’s any common opponent that could give Utah worry, it would be Oregon. The top seed destroyed Utah i the Pac-12 championship, but back in November they played a tight contest at home against Fresno. If the Bulldogs can get running like they did against the Ducks, they might have a chance to pull off the upset.