Washington State vs California Pac-12 Tournament Picks and Predictions: Cougars Advance

The California Golden Bears are likely missing some key pieces and are in the midst of a rough stretch. Meanwhile, the Washington State Cougars finished the regular season in fine form. We're taking the Cougars in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

JD Yonke - Contributor at Covers.com
JD Yonke • Contributor
Mar 9, 2022 • 10:19 ET • 5 min read
Noah Williams Dishon Jackson Washington State Cougars College Basketball
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 Tournament kicks off Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The No. 7 seed Washington State Cougars (18-13 overall, 11-9 in Pac-12) face off with the California Golden Bears (12-19 overall, 5-15 in Pac-12) in the third First Round matchup to tipoff in the conference.

The Cougars won their final three games of the season to finish with a winning conference record for the first time since 2007-08, and their 18 wins are their most since 2011. Will they be able to build on this momentum in the Pac-12 Tournament?

Check out our free college basketball betting picks and predictions for the California Bears and Washington State Cougars on Wednesday, March 9 to find out.

Washington State vs California odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

Washington State opened as 8.5-point favorites, but the line has moved to -8 as of Tuesday night. The total has been set at 126 and it hasn't budged by the time of this writing.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Washington State vs California predictions

Predictions made on 3/8/2022 at 11:40 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Washington State vs California game info

Location: T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, NV
Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Tip-off: 9:00 p.m. ET
TV: Pac-12 Network

Washington State at California betting preview


Washington State: Jefferson Koulibaly G (Doubtful), Tony Miller F (Doubtful).
California: Joel Brown G (Questionable), Andre Kelly F (Out).

Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Golden Bears are 5-11 against the spread in their last 16 games following a straight-up loss of more than 20 points. Find more NCAA betting trends for Washington State vs. California.

Washington State vs California picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

This is arguably the most difficult spread to handicap in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. Let’s dive deep and try to find the correct side to back with our hard-earned money.

On one hand, California looks like a live underdog in this spot. These teams played twice this season and the Bears lost both times — by four at home, and by eight in Pullman. Considering they’re 8-point underdogs in this matchup, that leads us to believe they’re capable of keeping things within the spread on a neutral court.

Mark Fox’s squad has also been more profitable than its opponent in the betting market this season. The Bears are a healthy 19-12 ATS while the Cougars are a measly 13-18 ATS. California has fared well as an underdog of between 7.5 and 12 points, going 5-1 ATS in such instances. When Washington State is a favorite of between 7.5 and 12 points, the Cougars are only 2-6 ATS.

That being said, we have reasons for concern for Cal. Starting point guard Joel Brown missed the regular-season finale with a knee injury, and his status is uncertain for the Pac-12 Tournament. Forward Andre Kelly, arguably the team’s best player, remains out with an ankle injury that caused him to miss the last 10 games. Considering the Bears have cracked the 65 point mark only once since Kelly’s injury, it’s fair to question whether or not we’ll see this team’s best effort on Wednesday.

These two teams finished the season going in opposite directions. The Bears lost 14 of their final 17 contests, while the Cougars finished on a three-game winning streak to total 18 regular-season wins — the most since 2011. The Cougars finished strong, routing Oregon 94-74 in the regular-season finale thanks to 16 made three-pointers.

Washington State ranks 55th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency, while California is way behind at 137th. The Bears have proven that they can hang tough with the Cougars in their two prior matchups, but we believe this first-round matchup may be a different case. California is limping to the finish line and is less than 100%, while Washington State is hot and hopes to keep rolling now that it is tournament time.

Prediction: Washington State -8 (-110)

Over/Under analysis

Washington State is 12-18-1 to the Over this season. The defense allows only 65.3 points per game and limits opponents to 42% shooting from the field. This is a long and athletic team capable of forcing opponents off their game. California has the worst scoring offense at only 63.2 points per game, and the offensive output has been particularly gruesome absent the services of Andre Kelly.

The Bears are solid defensively, limiting opponents to 66.1 points per game. They defend the 3-point line extremely well (54th nationally), as opposing teams are shooting only 31% from behind the arc. That could be a huge boost in this matchup against a Washington State team that attempted 830 3-point attempts this season, most in the Pac-12 by a wide margin.

There isn’t much room for error with a point total this low in the first round of a conference tournament, but we believe that the Under is the side.

Prediction: Under 126 (-110)

Best bet

Washington State lives and dies by the three, a notoriously high-variance style of play.

Last year in the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament, Oregon State got hot from deep and scorched the nets en route to a surprising tournament victory as the No. 5 seed. The Cougars will hope to follow a similar path to glory in what may be shooting-friendly confines in T-Mobile Arena.

The Bears are only 2-11 SU in games played away from home this season. The Cougars are far from perfect and are on upset alert if they get cold from outside, but they have the shooting and defense to make a surprising run in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Pick: Washington State -8 (-110)

College basketball parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed our Washington State vs. California picks, you could win $26.45 on a $10 bet?

Use our college basketball parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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