Loyola Marymount vs. Gonzaga Odds & Pick: Fade the Zags Against Huge Spread
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Suggs.
- Gonzaga will take on Loyola Marymount in a game with a huge spread to cap off Saturday's college hoops action.
- The Zags have been absolutely dominant this year, but is a 25-point spread too much against the Lions?
- Hasani Grayson thinks so and explains why with betting analysis below.
Loyola Marymount vs. Gonzaga Odds
|Loyola Marymount Odds||+25|
|Time | TV||Saturday, 10 p.m. ET | ESPN|
As anyone would expect, Gonzaga enters Saturday’s game against Loyola Marymount as a huge favorite.
Gonzaga should cruise to victory in this one, but with the top-ranked Bulldogs are getting a little too much love from the oddsmakers.
The Bulldogs come into this matchup as the top team in the nation, and this year, they’ve almost literally raced their way to the top with fast-paced play.
Gonzaga’s perfect 23-0 record is fueled by an offense that leads the nation in made field goals a game at 34.7 and is 25th in shot attempts per game at 62.8.
As fast as the Bulldogs are this year they, haven’t been relying on transition 3s, or too many 3s in general, to put up their gaudy scoring totals. The Zags are putting up just about 20 shots from beyond the arc a game this year and want to do most of their work on the inside.
High-level guard play and creative passing from guards like Jalen Suggs and Andrew Nembhard, who both sit around 4.5 assists a game, has also been a big part of the offense this season, but it’s actually the big men who lead the scoring effort.
Forwards Corey Kispert and Drew Timme are both averaging over 19 points a game, while Timme is tied with team lead with guard Joel Ayayi with 7.1 rebounds a night.
As the end of the season draws near, it’s looking like another typical high-quality year from the Mark Few-led Bulldogs, who have won the WCC seven times since the 2010-11 season.
But you already know why Gonzaga is nice.
It’s ranked as the best team in the nation, its team chemistry has been on display all season, and Few has been running a high-level program for more than 20 years.
The last time Few wasn’t doing impressive things at Gonzaga, I was in fourth grade struggling with long division. Now I’m a fully formed adult who still struggles with long division.
Gonzaga making the tournament and me needing a calculator for basic arithmetic are two things I’ve always been able to count on in life, even though I apparently struggle with counting.
The problem with handicapping this game isn’t that the Bulldogs aren’t going to win by a sizable margin, and it’s not that they’ve struggled to cover big numbers this year.
The Zags are 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games and have done pretty well when favored by more than 15 points recently. They’ve covered three out of the last four times they’ve been faced with that scenario in games against San Diego, Saint Mary’s, and San Francisco. The issue is that LMU is actually pretty decent and decent basketball teams typically don’t lose games by football score margins.
LMU is third place in the WCC standings and is clearly a step or two behind a second-place BYU, which is a giant leap behind Gonzaga. When Gonzaga took on BYU, the Bulldogs were an 11-point favorite. The Zags are now a 25-point favorite against LMU, and I refuse to believe the difference between the second-place Cougars and the third-place Lions is 14 points.
For this game to stay within 25 points, the Lions shouldn’t look to run with the Bulldogs because that’s not what LMU has done all year.
I expect LMU to try to slow the game down and keep the game in the half-court on both ends of the floor. Eli Scott will have to have a big game for the Lions to keep things close. The senior small forward has been a workhorse for the Lions, leading the team in minutes, rebounds, points and assists.
Joe Quintana, who leads the team in 3-point shooting at 46.1 %, could always get the hot hand from deep to keep things interesting. For an LMU team that doesn’t play particularly fast and isn’t particularly big, more outside shooting could be a welcome strategic adjustment.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I’m taking the Lions in this one to keep things close enough to cover the 25-point spread. I’m not just siding with the Loyola Marymount just because I went to one of the other schools named after Loyola.
If anything, one of my least favorite experiences going to Loyola University New Orleans was explaining to friends and family that I didn’t go to that Loyola they were watching on TV. My school didn’t produce any top-level basketball talent. Just a mediocre rapper or two (shout out Loyola University New Orleans alum G-Eazy).
I’m going with the Lions to find a way to keep things relatively respectable against a Gonzaga team that will have to stay focused and not coast at the end of the season.
Bet on LMU +25 on the road and try not to get your Loyola universities mixed up. I promise you, your friend who went to Loyola University Maryland doesn’t have any strong opinion on the performance of first-year LMU coach Stan Johnson.
Pick: Loyola Marymount +25.