The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will be away from the island on Thursday when they face the Utah Utes and will rely on their defense to try to pull the upset.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. Utah Utes (-11, 145.5)
Hawaii was 13th in the country last season in points allowed on a per possession basis and has are on track to be at that same level of dominance this season, entering Wednesday 16th in the nation in this category.
While Utah on the other end has seen a falloff to being the season after ranking 18th in points allowed per possession last season, nearly all of their core defensive pieces from last season are back and the schedule to this point has been difficult with having to play St. Mary’s, Houston, Wake Forest, and St. John’s in their last four games.
While the defense of Utah should see progress, the team’s 39.1% 3-point shooting is likely to regress considering this was a 33.3% 3-point shooting team a season ago and are facing a defense with a track record of success guarding the 3-point arc.
Often times in a sample size of less than 10 games, college basketball shooting numbers can be outliers, but Hawaii allowing opponents to shoot 27.5% from 3-point range this season has sustainability thanks to what they did last season, when the Rainbow Warriors were 11th in the country in opponent 3-point shooting percentage at 29.5% a season ago.
Both teams should also see a drop in tempo with both teams playing at a rate more than 3.5 possessions per game thus far this season compared to last season.
On both sides, the tempo shift has been a byproduct of the competition they have played with Utah enter Wednesday 150th in possessions per game after ranking 248th in this category a season ago and Hawaii entered Wednesday 88th after being 308th in the nation last season in possessions per game.
With a tempo shift for both teams likely to come and with the way Hawaii has guarded the perimeter dating back to last season, it sets up for a defensive showdown in Utah on Thursday.
The Play: Hawaii vs. Utah Under 145.5