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College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for Santa Clara vs. UCF (Sunday, Nov. 20)

Santa Clara vs. UCF Odds

Some might say the events that led us to having a Santa Clara vs. UCF final in the Bahamas Championship were anarchy.

Nope, that’s just college basketball.

Central Florida matched up with Oklahoma State in the first round, closing as a 6.5-point underdog to the Cowboys. The game looked to be all Cowboys in the first half and early into the second.

With 15:38 left in the second half, the Cowboys held a 13-point lead. But then the tide shifted. UCF went on a 5-0 run, while the Pokes went on four-minute scoring drought thanks to their 3-point shooting disappearing.

Things only got worse for the Cowboys the rest of the way. When it was all said and done, they shot just 24% from the floor and went 0-of-11 from beyond the arc in the second half.

Even with that awful performance, they still had a chance to win, getting the ball back with five seconds left on the clock.

They then had an ugly final possession.

Overtime wasn’t any better for the Pokes, as they made just 1-of-8 shots and went on to lose 60-56. Oklahoma State led by as many as 17 in the game while UCF’s win probability got as low as 4.3%.

Excuse me if I look at this as a game Oklahoma State lost rather than one UCF won.

Santa Clara, on the other hand, went up against a DePaul team that was already without Caleb Murphy and Nick Ongenda. Then shortly before the game, it was announced Yor Anei was ruled out with a foot injury.

Injuries finally became too much for the Blue Demons against Santa Clara, as the Broncos won 69-61.

The Broncos performed well, but at least some of their success is due largely to going up against a short-handed DePaul team.

So, with both teams benefiting from their opponents’ shortcomings, who can come out on top when these two square off for the championship?

Santa Clara’s offense has been solid, but it relies heavily on the duo of Brandin Podziemski and Carlos Stewart for a majority of its scoring.

The two combine for more than 50% of the team’s shots. And while Santa Clara does a good job of moving the ball to create shots for them — logging an assist on more than 50% of made shots — if either has a bad game, things could get ugly quickly for the Broncos.

The Broncos like to push the pace and have been exceptional when it comes to defensive rebounding.

Watch for these two factors to be the reason as to why they win or lose this game against the Knights. UCF ranks 338th nationally in Adjusted Tempo and is the 15th-best team in the country in offensive rebounding.

Whoever has the upper hand on the boards and controls the pace will win this game — it’s as simple as that.

It’s almost eerie how similar these two teams are on both sides of the ball.

The Knights’ effective FG% is 47.3%, Santa Clara’s is 46.3%. UCF is averaging 42.5 2-point attempts and 23.5 3-point attempts per game, while the Broncos average 41 and 23.

Central Florida comes away with an offensive rebound on 40% of its missed shots and Santa Clara gets a defensive rebound on 83% of opposing teams’ missed shots.

But the differences between the teams will be what decides this game.

The UCF defense has been great at not only creating turnovers, but scoring off of them, as well. UCF is 40th in the nation in forcing turnovers (17 per game) and is also averaging 21 points off of turnovers a game.

If the Knights can slow down the game and have a defensive showing like they did against Oklahoma State in the second half, they can leave the Bahamas with some hardware.

Santa Clara vs. UCF Betting Pick

As I mentioned, I think the Knights’ defense can step up in a big way against Santa Clara.

The Knights should win this game outright and cover 2.5.

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