Alabama vs. Gonzaga Odds, Picks, Predictions | Updated Betting Guide
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Image. Pictured: Brandon Miller (Alabama)
Alabama vs. Gonzaga Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
On the first truly great slate of college basketball Saturday games, this one might be the best of the bunch.
Not only are these two highly-ranked and accomplished teams, but there is a lot on the line when the Zags visit the Tide in Birmingham.
Gonzaga is off to a rocky start, if you’re judging by the lofty standard set by Mark Few’s program in recent seasons. Beating Alabama in what is essentially a road environment could re-position the Bulldogs’ trajectory and re-elevate them into the national title contender conversation.
Alabama has just one loss on the season, losing to undefeated UConn. Nate Oats and the Tide should be laser focused on securing a top seed in March. A win over Gonzaga would go a long way towards building a worthy resume.
If you had any doubts about the Crimson Tide, they answered those questions last Saturday.
Alabama strolling into Houston and beating the Cougars on the road is the best win any team in college basketball can boast this season. If Houston continues to look as good as it has so far, that win might continue to reign supreme as the most impressive single-game performance by season’s end.
Alabama trailed in that game by 15 points in the second half, charging back thanks to some key shot-making and lockdown defense.
Oats has the Tide playing a high-octane style of basketball. Alabama is top-20 nationally in pace, looking to force turnovers to spark its offense.
On offense, the Tide spread you out and look to attack from long range. Alabama has attempted and made more 3s than its opponent in eight of its 10 games this season.
The most important piece offensively is Brandon Miller, a 6-foot-9 freshman with an NBA future coming sooner than later. Miller is launching seven attempts from beyond the arc per game and is making better than 43% of those looks.
His ability to create a mismatch against smaller or bigger players opens up Oats’ offense, especially in transition.
It’s hard to pull out all of the “worst Gonzaga season since” stats considering the Zags are still a top-15 team by almost any metric and have lost three games all to fellow top-15 teams at neutral or true road venues.
At the same time, the program Few has built in Spokane has risen to improbable heights, especially in the last half decade.
A Gonzaga team that appears to be outside the ring of most likely national championship contenders now qualifies as an oddity, placing the Zags in a rarefied air with only the truest blue-blood schools.
This season marks the earliest Gonzaga has lost its third game of the year in at least 50 years (though the start date of college basketball’s season moved up early this century).
For the first time in a while, Few’s typical beast of a non-conference schedule has pundits wondering if Gonzaga has enough flaws to be threatened in West Coast Conference play.
The Bulldogs’ frontcourt can still go toe-to-toe with any in America. Drew Timme is playing some of his best basketball, raising his free-throw rate, rebounding rates and shooting percentages above his marks from last season’s All-American campaign.
He’s joined by Anton Watson, one of the premier glue guys in recent college basketball memory, and Ben Gregg, a sophomore who has shown some real flashes on the defensive end of the floor.
Gonzaga’s issues come on the perimeter. Julian Strawther is an elite shooter that can spread a defense. Rasir Bolton is a great shooter and can operate the offense in transition. Nolan Hickman is talented player with a high ceiling. And Malachi Smith was a high-level scorer at Chattanooga last year.
Despite the strengths of that group, none of those players are the kind of primary offensive creator that Few has had in recent years.
Ideally, that shouldn’t matter too much with Timme as your first option, but as teams double Timme and rotate defensively, the Gonzaga guards have struggled to showcase the ability to create off the bounce and attack a closeout or mismatch.
In a tight game when teams are focused on Timme, someone else on the Zags’ roster needs to be able to create a look in the half-court.
Gonzaga is still ranked fifth nationally in offensive efficiency and has big-time wins against Michigan State, Kentucky and Xavier. The sky is not falling, but the red flags are raised.
Alabama vs. Gonzaga Betting Pick
If there’s another area of concern for Gonzaga, it’s defending penetration at the rim. Baylor’s dismantling of the Zags in the 2021 National Championship has continued to serve as a blueprint for teams looking to attack Gonzaga.
Even though most of the Zags’ roster has turned over, one key piece has not: Timme.
Teams want to draw Timme into space, make him into an active defender and challenge him on switches and at the rim. Last year, Few had an obvious solution. Chet Holmgren, an elite rim protector, was always behind Timme waiting to corral any attackers.
This year, the Zags don’t have that luxury. Some teams have the tools to exploit that flaw, but not the stubbornness to commit to it for the entire game. That’s not a worry for Alabama and Oats.
Oats has his team playing a modern style of basketball and is more than willing to run whatever is working over and over again. If a sportsbook was silly enough to offer a prop bet on how may ball screens the Tide will set for Jahvon Quinerly and Mark Sears in this game, I’d gladly hammer the over.
Alabama is going to attack the paint relentlessly to get Timme into foul trouble, or to find open looks at the rim and on kick-outs.
That’s a sound strategy against the Zags, and Oats has the roster to do it.
I like the Tide to cover in front of a pro-Bama crowd in Birmingham.