Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga College Basketball Odds & Pick: Back a Low-Scoring WCC Tournament Game (Monday, March 8)
William Mancebo/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Suggs of Gonzaga.
- Gonzaga unbeaten status is on the line Monday night as it opens WCC tournament play.
- The Bulldogs have already played the Gaels twice, but Saint Mary's held Gonzaga to its lowest point total this season.
- BJ Cunningham explains why Saint Mary's pace of play will factor into the total.
Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga Odds
Gonzaga puts its undefeated season on the line in the WCC Conference tournament against Saint Mary’s.
Saint Mary’s was able squeak by Loyola Marymount in the quarterfinals, but it’s been a difficult season for the Gaels. They are only 14-8 on the season and have struggled on the offensive end of the floor. They were blown out by Gonzaga less than a month ago and need to win the WCC tournament to make the NCAA Tournament, so Monday night will be a tall task for Saint Mary’s.
When Saint Mary’s has the ball
It’s been a real struggle for the Gaels offensively this season, as they’re averaging an abysmal 0.91 points per possession during conference play. The main issue is they’re shooting the ball really poorly from the field. The Gaels shoot only 27.6% from three-point range and 46.9% from two-point range., which is a big problem when you’re trying to keep pace with the best offense in the country.
The Gaels only averaged 0.90 points per possession in their two meetings with Gonzaga this season. In both meetings they couldn’t score at all inside averaging under 45%. The only chance Saint Mary’s has to win this game is to slow down the tempo and keep Gonzaga in the half court. The Gaels rank 349th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom, so look for them to try and use up the entire shot clock on offense.
Gonzaga’s defense has been stifling WCC opponents this season, allowing only 0.89 points per possession. They allow only 45.4% from two-point range during conference play and have allowed their opponents to shoot only 56.1% on attempts at the rim, per Hoop-Math. If Saint Mary’s can’t hit anything from deep, I have a hard time seeing how they’re going to break 60 points.
When Gonzaga has the ball
The Bulldogs offense has been impossible to stop this season because they have elite scorers all over the floor. Four of their five starters average double figures on the season, and both forwards — Drew Timme and Corey Kispert — are on the cusp of averaging 20 points apiece.
Gonzaga’s offense dominates in every statistical category, which makes it extremely difficult to defend. The Bulldogs are averaging 1.21 points per possession during WCC play, and most of their scoring is coming from inside.
Gonzaga dominates their opponents inside as they have the best two-point field goal percentage in the country and average 74% on shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop-Math. However, Saint Mary’s defense was able to hold them to their lowest point total this season in one of their meetings.
The Gaels’ defense is the reason they’re above .500, as they’re allowing 0.97 points per possession during conference play. They also rank 12th in the nation in defensive efficiency, per KenPom.
The reason Saint Mary’s defense is so good is because they defend the paint at an elite level. The Gaels allow only 45.1% shooting from two-point range and 50.7% on shot attempts at the rim, which is the eighth-best mark in the country. So they are well equipped to handle Gonzaga down low.
Saint Mary’s plays a kind of pack-line defense that denies opponents from getting to the rim and forces teams to shoot contested three-pointers to beat them. For Gonzaga to put up their usual 80+ points on offense, they will have to shoot the ball well from deep.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Gonzaga’s offense has been elite all season long but has somewhat struggled against Saint Mary’s. I think the Gaels are capable of keeping the Bulldogs under 80 points due to their interior defense and extremely slow tempo. On the flip side, their anemic offense is going to have a lot of problems trying to score inside.
I only have 136.77 points projected for this game, so I think there is some value on Under 143.5 points (FanDuel).
Pick: Under 143.5 | Play down to 141