Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga Odds, Pick & Preview: Bet the Underdog in WCC Championship (March 8)
Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Julian Strawther.
- The Gonzaga Bulldogs look to continue their dominant season when they face the Saint Mary's Gaels for the WCC Championship on Tuesday night.
- The Gaels handed the Zags their only conference loss this season, so they have the formula when it comes to stopping one of the nation's elite teams.
- Check out DJ James' full breakdown and top betting pick below.
Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga Odds
|Saint Mary’s Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
As expected, Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga will head to the West Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Championship on Tuesday night.
To get to the final, the Gaels toppled Santa Clara, while the Bulldogs took out San Francisco for a third time this season.
Even though the Zags are a heavy favorite for the overall NCAA Tournament title, the Gaels should keep it closer tonight.
Saint Mary’s Needs to Control Pace
Saint Mary’s is the only WCC team to beat Gonzaga this season. It did so by limiting Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme to six points apiece.
It will not be able to necessarily do the same to both, but its slow pace can throw a wrench in the Zags’ plans. The Gaels run at the 337th-slowest adjusted tempo, per KenPom. Gonzaga ranks third. These are polar opposite styles of offense, and this is the way to control the game against the best team in the country.
Saint Mary’s will have to do so again to keep this game within arm’s reach.
The Gaels also tout an equivalent defense to the Zags. Gonzaga ranks sixth in adjusted defensive efficiency, while Saint Mary’s comes in at ninth. These are neck-and-neck, so neither team has a particular edge.
However, per ShotQuality, the Gaels can defend inside and out. They rank 40th in points at the rim and post-up points. They also sit sixth in Open-3 Rate and ninth in Rim & Three Rate. Basically, their entire defensive approach eliminates efficient shots, which is how they beat Gonzaga the first time.
This is what the Zags rely on with Holmgren and Timme. Of their total points, 56% come from inside the arc, so if they play at an unbearably slow pace, these shots will simply not be there.
On the offensive end, the Gaels thrive in Open-3 Rate. Matthias Tass is their go-to post, but he put up only 13 points in their last matchup.
They needed to shoot well from deep in order to win that game after some stops on D. They shot 6-for-16 from outside. Again, they rank first on Open-3 Rate at 57%, per ShotQuality. If they can knock these down, they can cover the spread.
Gonzaga’s Offense Will Be Better
Gonzaga, meanwhile, will be out for blood seeing that the Gaels are the only team that beat it in conference play. This is the best team in the country, outside of maybe Arizona, because it’s efficient on both ends of the court.
After all, the Bulldogs shoot over 60% inside the arc. This is almost unheard of, and there’s a reason they rank second in this metric. Since Saint Mary’s can eliminate those open, reasonable shots, it can control the Zags a bit.
Gonzaga will need to shoot better from outside to negate the slow pace of the Gaels. Saint Mary’s allows 33.9% of 3s for opponents to fall. This is probably the weakest element of its defense.
The Gaels will not give the opposition open shots outside, but on catch-and-shoot 3s, they rank 225th, per ShotQuality. On off-the-dribble 3s, they rank 343rd. Gonzaga can take advantage and find open looks anyway.
Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga Betting Pick
Saint Mary’s plays at such a slow pace, and that’s the main ingredient for a cover. That will let the Gaels settle into their defense and not permit uncontested 3-pointers.
They may not hold Holmgren and Timme to six points each again, but Julian Strawther, Rasir Bolton and Andrew Nembhard can all hit their 3s.
Since the Gaels slowed down both matchups against Gonzaga this season, expect them to do it again. Take the Gaels to cover at +13 and play to +11.5.
Pick: Saint Mary’s +13 (Play to +11.5)
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