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Gonzaga vs Saint Mary’s Odds & Prediction: Betting Value on Bulldogs

Gonzaga vs Saint Mary’s Odds & Prediction: Betting Value on Bulldogs article feature image

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Timme (Gonzaga)

Gonzaga vs Saint Mary’s Odds

Tuesday, March 7
9 p.m. ET
Gonzaga Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
Saint Mary’s Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

For the third time this year — after splitting the regular-season duels — the Saint Mary’s Gaels face off with the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Typically, Saint Mary’s should be able to match up with any team in the country because of its defensive game plan, but the Gonzaga offense can exploit the noticeable issue within the Gaels’ defense.

This should lead to a close victory for the Zags in this conference tournament final.

The Gaels edged out the Bulldogs for the WCC regular-season title based on their NET ranking. However, these two teams are about as neck-and-neck as they come.

The Gaels usually just perform with an opposite scheme. They rank seventh in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, holding opponents to a 46.1% eFG%. Opponents are only shooting 32.1% from deep and 45.2% inside the arc on them.

That said, these numbers may be a little misleading at times, which was notable the last time Gonzaga beat this team by nine.

Yes, Saint Mary’s only yields a 31.9% 3-point attempt rate to opponents this year, but many of these 3s are open. The Gaels rank 256th in points per possession (PPP) on catch-and-shoot 3s and 302nd in off-the-dribble 3s, per ShotQuality.

Although Gonzaga only shot 4-of-14 from outside the last time these two played, Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton and Malachi Smith all shoot over 40% from 3-point distance. They should get more open opportunities this time.

On the other hand, the Zags primarily play through Drew Timme, so 1) Saint Mary’s limiting 3s does not affect the Bulldogs as much as other teams, and 2) the Zags produce 56% of their points off of 2s.

The Zags shoot 59% from inside the perimeter, ranking 45th in shots at the rim. They also rank 13th on pick-and-roll ball screens and 16th on isolations.

Saint Mary’s ranks 196th, 292nd and 324th in these metrics, respectively.

Even if teams are only shooting 45.2% on 2-pointers on the Gaels this season, they are allowing opponents to get efficient shots up close.

The Zags have a dominant and efficient offense — ranking first in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, per KenPom — but their defense will be the detriment long term.

The Zags allow a ton of 3s, ranking 264th in 3-point attempt rate. Opponents are shooting over 35% on them from 3 and 51.7% on 2s, so none of these are ingredients for a team that needs to make a stop.

Looking more closely, the Bulldogs rank 282nd in points per possession on shots attacking the rim, 340th on pick-and-roll ball screens and 333rd on isolations, per ShotQuality.

Here’s an example of how porous they can be against a much lesser opponent in Pepperdine:

Julian Strawther really struggled defending Max Lewis in this game, both on and off ball.

Side note: I would have loved to see this iteration of Max Lewis go up against Gonzaga's defense last year

— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) January 2, 2023

They also have a tendency to struggle guarding the perimeter, as touched on briefly in the paragraph before this. Per ShotQuality, Gonzaga ranks 358th in PPP on catch-and-shoot 3s and 334th in PPP for off-the-dribble 3s.

Saint Mary’s can score inside and out with a much more balanced team, so this can be a concern.

Even still, Gonzaga has a short spread to cover. It should be able to get the job done offensively. If it can put together a few stops from 3-point range, it has a distinguished — yet close — advantage over the Gaels this game.

Take Gonzaga at -2.5 (-110), and play it to -3 (-110).

Pick: Gonzaga -2.5 (Play to -3)

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