Gonzaga vs. Auburn College Basketball Odds & Picks: Back the Bulldogs As Big Favorites on Black Friday
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images. Pictured: Corey Kispert.
- Less than 24 hours removed from a gutty overtime victory over Saint Joseph's, Bruce Pearl's Auburn Tigers must regroup to take on the No. 1 team in the country bright and early Friday morning.
- The Gonzaga Bulldogs impressed in their debut double-digit win over No. 6 Kansas, but Gonzaga opened as just an 11.5-point favorite against ...this Auburn team?
- Mike Randle breaks down Friday morning's 11 a.m. ET matchup and explains why he believes the Bulldogs should roll to their second win with ease on Black Friday.
Gonzaga vs. Auburn Odds
|Gonzaga Odds||-13 [BET NOW]|
|Auburn Odds||+13 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-1115 / +870 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||158 [BET NOW]|
|Time||11 a.m. ET|
Auburn entered the season with much uncertainty after losing all five starters from 2019. They opened the 2020 season with a tough 96-91 overtime win over St. Joseph’s, but the Tigers players are still in the process of defining their roles. Will their sheer athleticism be enough to stay close with the No. 1 team in the country?
This is a rebuild for the Tigers, who need to replace their top-six players from last year’s 25-6 team. Head coach Bruce Pearl signed the best recruiting class in school history, headlined by five-star point guard Sharife Cooper. However, Cooper did not travel with the team to Florida as he awaits an eligibility decision from the NCAA. This leaves a huge void at point guard, which Pearl will try to fill with sophomore Tyrell Jones and freshman Justin Powell.
Pearl’s sophomore group is very strong as a whole. Shooting guard Devin Cambridge (4.2 points per game) gained 25 pounds in the offseason to support his development into a more versatile scorer. Cambridge shot 34.2% from the 3-point line and had multiple “heat check” moments throughout last season, including 6-of-9 from deep against South Carolina and 7-of-10 in a 91-90 home overtime win over No. 18 LSU. Unfortunately, Cambridge suffered through a rough 1-of-9 shooting night from beyond the arc against St. Joseph’s, but he did contribute 10 rebounds.
Forward Jaylin Williams (2.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg) and guard Allen Flanigan (3.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg) will also play significant roles. Williams led the Tigers with 18 points and 11 rebounds against St. Joseph’s, while Flanigan posted 12 points and five rebounds.
Four-star recruit JT Thor rounds out the starting lineup. Thor is a 6-foot-9 lanky scorer with versatility, and he will be disruptive on defense.
The Tigers have size inside as well with 6-foot-10 sophomore Babatunde Akingbola, who gained 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason as well. He made his presence felt in the Auburn overtime win with three blocks and two steals.
Yet, the Tigers core issues remain: The team’s uncertain rotations and player roles that are still in development. The Tigers lost four starters and are the youngest team Pearl has ever coached on the Division-I level. The inexperience showed on Thanksgiving Day as the team shot a rough 67.4% (29-of-43) from the foul line against the Hawks.
Head coach Mark Few’s Bulldogs lived up to their preseason No. 1 ranking with an impressive 102-90 win over No. 6 Kansas. The Bulldogs broke the century mark against the Jayhawks while only shooting six-of-18 from 3-point land. This team is talented and deep.
Gonzaga received great news this week when Florida-transfer Andrew Nembhard’s waiver was granted, making him eligible to play immediately. That move made one of the country’s most deep and talented rosters is even stronger. Nembhard came off the bench against Kansas and scored 11 points with three assists in 32 minutes.
The leadership will come from senior starters Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi. Kispert (13.9 ppg) is Gonzaga’s top returning scorer and Ayayi (10.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.3 spg) is one of the nation’s best all-around guards. Against the Jayhawks on Thursday, Kispert tallied 23 points, including shooting 3-of-8 from 3. Ayayi added 15 points with nine rebounds and two steals in 32 minutes.
We haven’t even mentioned the two leading scorers from yesterday’s win. Sophomore big man Drew Timme (25 points, six rebounds) and freshman Jalen Suggs (24 points, eight assists, two steals) were the best players on the floor.
The dynamic 6-foot-10 Timme replaced third-team All American center Filip Petrusev and showed off a litany of inside moves against Kansas big man David McCormack. He also contributed two steals and went 3-of-4 from the foul line. Timme will be a matchup nightmare for Auburn.
The best player on the floor was the five-star freshman Suggs. He tallied his incredible stat-line in just 24 minutes — and against one of the best defensive teams in the country. Suggs started the game with an alley-oop dunk and steal off the next possession.
Gonzaga out-rebounded the Jayhawks 33-to-24, and Kansas only remained in the game early due to its red-hot shooting from deep. The Jayhawks shot 6-of-11 from 3 during the first half, which helped KU keep the game close.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This would be a difficult matchup for Auburn even under normal circumstances; but, having to play the Bulldogs less than 24 hours after an overtime win is almost impossible. Gonzaga is the more talented and deeper team.
Auburn will need to exceed the Jayhawks’ hot 3-point shooting in the first half to keep this game close. Given the youth and uncertain roles on Pearl’s team, Gonzaga may simply be too much to overcome.
I took Gonzaga -11.5 as soon as it posted at MGM. As of writing, the line is Gonzaga -13, and that number should continue to rise prior to tipoff.
Playing the Bulldogs at 11 a.m. ET — on the second half of back-to-back games — this early in the season is almost unfair. No. 1 Gonzaga will roll to its second win of the season.
Pick: Gonzaga -13. Play up to -14.5.