On Saturday, the Grand Canyon Antelopes (23-11) and the Southern Utah Thunderbirds (22-11) will duke it out in the WAC Championship game with a trip to March Madness on the line. GCU has had a wild journey to the title game, beating UT Arlington, Seattle, and top-ranked Sam Houston State by an average of four points over the last four days. However, SUU has been more jaw-dropping in its quest to play in the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in program history. They trailed by as much as 23 points to Utah Valley in the semis but came back to win 89-88 thanks to a remarkable four-point play by Tevian Jones with four seconds remaining in regulation.
Grand Canyon vs. Southern Utah Betting Odds
|Grand Canyon Antelopes||-1.5||o149.5||-115|
|Southern Utah Thunderbirds||+1.5||u149.5||-104|
Odds are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Grand Canyon vs. Southern Utah Match Details
Fixture: Grand Canyon vs. Southern Utah (Neutral)
Date and Time: Saturday, March 11, 2023, at 10:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Orleans Arena
ShotQuality Tale of the Tape
Below, we will highlight essential ShotQuality data for this matchup, including Adjusted Offensive and Defensive SQ, strengths, weaknesses, and frequency. SQppp is a player’s average ShotQuality points per possession.
Thus, SQppp = Total SQpoints/Total No. of Possessions.
The Southern Utah Thunderbirds own a 1.06 AdjOFF SQ this season, good for 104th in the nation. GCU has the 222nd-best AdjDEF SQ at 1.04. does well in all key stats but shot-making, where they are in the 45th percentile. They are also 226th in rim & three SQ PPP. Conversely, the Antelopes are in the 67th percentile in defensive shot-making (263rd in the nation) but 27th in defensive rim & three SQ PPP.
The Thunderbirds own high-frequency numbers in finishing at the rim and off-the-dribble three-point shot types. They are inside the top 15 in frequency regarding those shot types. However, they are 246th in finishing at the rim (1.14 SQ PPP) and 166th (1.02) in off-the-dribble three-pointers. Conversely, the Antelopes, which have had a tough year on D, are 9th in defending shots at the rim and have been fantastic in defending the perimeter.
The Antelopes have a 1.04 AdjOFF SQ, the 139th-best mark in the country. SUU has posted a 0.99 AdjDEF SQ this season, clocking in at 98th in the country. The Antelopes are in the top 100 in the rim & three rate metric, shot-making, and the free throw rate metric (FTR). The Thunderbirds are outside the top 180 in defending those key categories, lowlighted by being in the 95th percentile in defensive shot-making.
GCU is in the country’s top half in frequency regarding the following shot types: catch-and-shoot three-pointers, finishing at the rim, half-court, off-the-dribble three-pointers, off-screen, and P&R ball screen. The GCU defense will have a massive edge near the rim, but SUU should have the advantage of shooting from beyond the arc.
Grand Canyon vs. Southern Utah Prediction
Both offenses have the edge in shot-making, FTR, the rim & three rate metric, and the open three rate metric. Although SUU is disadvantaged in their high-frequency shot types, the Antelopes have given up at least 75 points in four of their last five games. As for the Thunderbirds, they surrendered 83 points to GCU in the first go around, giving me the confidence that this game again flies over the total.