State of the WCC College Basketball Betting Report: Welcome to Chet Holmgren & Gonzaga’s World
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
Gonzaga’s noteworthy dominance has stood out even further over the last couple of weeks. The Zags now sit atop the latest AP Poll, above Auburn. They have yet to be tested in conference play, even though the WCC projects to have four representatives in the NCAA Tournament field.
On the other hand, BYU continues to tumble and is now one of the “Last Four In” in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology release. The Cougars have recent wins over Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount, but it took a trip to overtime to beat the Lions.
The Cougars do not look like the dominant force that was able to defeat San Francisco on the road just a month ago.
San Diego needed to be up to the task to potentially edge out Santa Clara or Saint Mary’s, but ended up losing by significant margins. The Toreros now find themselves in the middle of the WCC standings.
The Santa Clara Broncos have been overlooked by much of the college basketball world. Yes, they dropped a home game to San Francisco, but the Dons are the third-best team in the conference.
You could make an argument that Santa Clara deserves an NCAA Tournament nod over BYU.
On Feb. 8, the Broncos defeated Saint Mary’s at home, handing the Gaels their second loss in conference.
They did so by logging 18 assists and using their comparable height and efficiency inside to their advantage. They shot 61% inside the arc, which is impressive considering how Saint Mary’s usually holds opponents to under 48%.
In addition, they hit above the 40% mark on 3-pointers, exploiting a major weakness for the Gaels all season.
The Broncos’ rebounding numbers are not impressive for the season, but if they can hold opponents in check inside the perimeter and find reasonable shots to take, they are surely a mismatch.
Jalen Williams is one name to watch come conference tournament time. His 6-foot-6 inch frame allows him to play both inside and out.
18 points, 10 assists, and 4 steals for Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams last night in their win over Saint Mary's.
This was the most comfortable I've seen him with the ball in his hands all year. Has continued to look very good on the defensive end as well. pic.twitter.com/XAc7FGGMkF
— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) February 9, 2022
Holding those Holmgren futures at +6000 would feel great at the moment if he wasn’t sitting in the shadows behind Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky or his own teammate, Drew Timme.
He now sits at +1600, according to DraftKings, but Tshiebwe is expected to win.
That does not mean Holmgren is not a special player who could push the Gonzaga Bulldogs over the finish line for a national title this spring.
In February, Holmgren is averaging 17 points, 12 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. Meanwhile, Tshiebwe is averaging 16.5 points, 16.3 rebounds and 3.25 steals in his last four games.
The Kentucky star may be a dominant force, but there’s a reason Holmgren is only a few slots below him in KenPom’s Player of the Year rankings.
Considering how the next month or so goes, he could have a chance to sneak past Tshiebwe in the end. After all, he is also shooting 47.1% from 3-point land this month, which Tshiebwe, nor his teammate, Timme, can do.
Neither are going to pull up from 3 with the ease of an NBA guard.
CHET HOLMGREN WITH 11 POINTS IN UNDER TWO MINUTES 🤯 pic.twitter.com/YBeBtOP71q
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 4, 2022
Probably not in conference play, but we have exciting look-ahead games on Feb. 24 (San Francisco) and Feb. 26 (Saint Mary’s). Remember, the Zags only led by three at the half in the first meeting against San Francisco until they busted out of the gates to win by 16.
The reason it was close was San Francisco did not allow the rebounding margin to get out of hand. In fact, the final result was 39-38 in favor of Gonzaga. The Dons were able to negate the usual advantage the Bulldogs’ bigs hold.
However, San Francisco only shot 36.1% from the field and 28.6% from downtown. Gonzaga did not shoot well either (46.7% and 27.8%), but San Francisco’s defense is its strong suit.
Compared to the last affair, expect this game to be somewhat of a test, especially since this one takes place on the Dons’ home floor. SF will shoot better than it did in Spokane, Washington, and it will be ramped up a notch on defense.
The Saint Mary’s Gaels also lost on the road to the Zags by 16, and the game got out of hand quickly.
The Bulldogs owned the glass, with a rebounding margin of 37-26. They also shot 56% from the field and 50% from downtown, providing an easy advantage. Saint Mary’s shot 42.9% overall and a paltry 29.4% from 3.
The Gaels have an even stronger defense than the Dons, so this is an edge in the second matchup. Gonzaga will not shoot as well on the road as it did in the first game. Also, it will not own that wide of a gap on the boards.
Since this game takes place two days after the Bulldogs’ game against San Francisco, it could be a letdown spot.
It may not lose, but Gonzaga will be tested by at least one of these two.
Santa Clara could be in the next Bracketology, and Williams could lead the Broncos to a couple of victories in the WCC Tournament. Keep an eye on the Broncos as the season continues to progress.
Holmgren is a menace and a total mismatch for every team in the country. As a freshman, he truly is one of the best players in the nation.
Finally, Gonzaga may not lose until potentially the Final Four. Seriously, the Zags are that good, but the San Francisco Dons and the Saint Mary’s Gaels are no walk-overs. Those two games down the stretch will be must-sees, especially if you love watching West Coast basketball.