Kansas vs. Gonzaga Odds, Picks & Betting Prediction: Bet the Bulldogs to Come Out Strong (Thursday, Nov. 26)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Joel Ayayi (11).
- The sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks will take on the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs in the biggest game of the young college basketball season on Thursday.
- The Jayhawks lost some key pieces from last year, but the Bulldogs seem to keep getting stronger.
- Mike Randle breaks down the game and shares a betting pick based on his analysis below.
Kansas vs. Gonzaga Odds
|Kansas Odds||+4 [BET NOW]|
|Gonzaga Odds||-4 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+150 / -182 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||150.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||1:30 p.m. ET|
The premier game on the Thanksgiving slate features two of the country’s top teams with No. 6 Kansas battling No. 1 Gonzaga at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida. It features a contrast in styles as Gonzaga’s up-tempo offense will clash with the Jayhawks’ lockdown defense. Kansas was the nation’s top team last year, but will there be a changing of the guard to start the 2020-21 season?
No team was more disappointed by the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament than Kansas. The Jayhawks were 28-3 and on a 16-game winning streak when the season ended. They enter this year without their two key pieces from last year’s team, as center Udoka Azubuike and point guard Devon Dotson are now in the NBA.
This year’s Kansas team boasts a solid core of returning players, led by the guard tandem of Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji. Garrett is one of the nation’s top defensive players and averaged 1.8 steals per game, along with 4.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He’s increased his scoring each year from 4.1 points as a freshman to 9.2 points last season.
Agbaji will inherit Dotson’s role of leading the offense. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound, junior’s production was Garrett’s mirror image with per-game averages of 10 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. Both players will serve as catalysts for the Jayhawks but need to limit turnovers as the veteran foundation.
The Kansas long-distance specialist is sophomore Christian Braun (5.3 ppg), who shot a blistering 44% (32-of-72) from deep last season. His outside shooting is essential for a Kansas team that ranked just 132nd (34%) from beyond the arc last season.
With Silvio De Sousa opting out of the season for personal reasons, the frontcourt responsibilities fall on David McCormack. The 6-foot-10, 265-pound junior certainly has the size, but he needs to stay out of foul trouble with a big increase in minutes over his 14.7 per game in 2019-20.
Redshirt senior Mitch Lightfoot returns as a leader and essential role player for the Jayhawks. His high energy level is a huge contribution on defense, but a limited offensive skill set will need to improve, especially in challenging non-conference games.
The key to the Kansas offense will be junior college transfer Tyon Grant-Foster. His positionless skill set provides the Jayhawks with versatility in their starting lineup. However, he needs more strength and will certainly be tested against a strong and experienced Gonzaga team.
The last time the Gonzaga men’s basketball program failed to win over 25 games was during the 2010-2011 season. In the nine years since, the Bulldogs have won 30-plus games six times, including the last four consecutive seasons.
This year, head coach Mark Few may have assembled his best team ever.
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.
Big Gonzaga roster news: Guard Andrew Nembhard, a transfer from Florida, had his waiver approved. He is eligible to play, beginning with Thursday's game against Kansas. Nembhard was two-year starter at Florida. Joins a deep, talented Zag backcourt.
— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) November 24, 2020
Nembhard brings point guard experience from a major college program in Florida. Last season, he averaged 9.5 ppg and 5.5 apg on an average of 33 minutes. Stifled by Gators head coach Mike White’s conservative offense, Nembhard could flourish in Gonzaga’s lightning-fast pace that ranked 35th in the country last year, according to KenPom.
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.
As if that wasn’t enough backcourt strength, the Bulldogs also feature five-star freshman guard Jalen Suggs, who is the highest-ranked recruit in Gonzaga history. Lastly, they have grad transfer Aaron Cook coming off the bench after he averaged 15 points and 3.2 steals per game in his last season at Southern Ilinois.
Gonzaga replaces third-team All American center Filip Petrusev with dynamic 6-foot-10 sophomore Drew Timme, who ended the season with his best performance (17 points) against Saint Mary’s in the WCC Conference Tournament.
Timme will be supported up front by 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward Anton Watson, who saw his season end in January as a result of shoulder surgery.
The Zags have evolved into a well-balanced attack, finishing last year ranked first in adjusted offensive efficiency and 43rd in adjusted defensive efficiency. They were third overall in effective field goal percentage and also seventh in the country with a 38.6% team 3-point percentage. They are one of the most difficult matchups in college basketball.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Surprisingly, Gonzaga is the deeper and more talented team here.
Kansas ended the 2019-20 season as the best team in college basketball, but the departure of Azubuike and Dotson left a massive void. Garrett and Agbaji were strong role players but now need to carry the offensive burden. Much will be expected of Foster-Grant and Thompson, but will they be ready to contribute on Day 1 against the nation’s top-ranked team?
I expect a valiant effort from the tough, defensive-minded Jayhawks, but they will eventually be overwhelmed by Gonzaga’s relentless offense. Nembhard’s eligibility makes the Bulldogs’ roster deep and unaffected by foul trouble.
I’m laying the 5.5 points with the Zags in a statement game that will illustrate why they are the clear No. 1 team in the country.
Pick: Gonzaga -5. Play up to 5.5.