West Coast Conference Tournament Betting Preview: Can Any WCC Team Challenge Gonzaga?
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Andrew Nembhard.
The West Coast Conference Tournament kicks off on Thursday morning, with a full roster of teams ready to battle for the championship. There was uncertainty whether Gonzaga and/or BYU would opt-out to prepare for the NCAA Tournament, but both are slated to compete.
Gonzaga is looking to win its 19th WCC Tournament title, and become the 20th team in history to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated.
Due to the unbalanced schedule this season, the WCC worked with Ken Pomeroy to develop a seeding model that best reflects the results of conference games. This produced the following seeds:
🗣 #WCChoops@UCU_LA Tournament Time 🗣
Men’s Final Standings:
— WCC Basketball (@WCChoops) February 28, 2021
With Gonzaga as the heavy favorite, identifying the best betting odds is a bit tricky.
Here are my favorite WCC bets for both the WCC Tournament and NCAA Tournament.
How To Bet Gonzaga
As the No. 1 team in the nation with -2500 odds to win the WCC Tournament, there is no value in betting the Bulldogs.
The Zags have been so dominant, the only choice is to back them to win the National Championship. The best current odds are Gonzaga +325 at bet365.
Gonzaga metrics are as dominant as any team in recent history.
Head coach Mark Few's Bulldogs are the most efficient offense in the nation per KenPom. They are first in effective field goal percentage (61.1%) and 2-point efficiency (64.4%). They are strong from beyond the arc, shooting 36.7% as a team.
Player of the Year candidate Corey Kispert (19.5 PPG, 46.5% 3P) and guard Joel Ayayi (11.3 PPG, 36.9% 3P) are deadly shooters from deep.
Gonzaga is also elite on defense, ranking first in WCC play in adjusted defensive efficiency and 2-point percentage allowed (45.4%).
With 6-foot-10 sophomore Drew Timme (18.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG) solidifying the interior, and incredible depth off the bench, the Bulldogs have the perfect combination to win their first national championship in school history.
As the overwhelming favorite, there is no value in backing Gonzaga in a tournament it historically dominates. The best bet is to back the Zags to cut the nets down in Indianapolis.
Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
If Gonzaga were to lose…
If the Zags were to suffer an upset, the most realistic losses would be to Saint Mary's or BYU.
Saint Mary's is the last team to win the WCC Tournament other than Gonzaga. It's an attractive longshot at +1400.
The Gaels are the biggest rival for the Zags, and head coach Randy Bennett is the last coach to find a way to stop Gonzaga in the conference tournament.
Saint Mary's is well-below its usual talent level, but the Gaels did stay competitive and held the Bulldogs to 19 points below its season average of 92.9 PPG.
While Gonzaga has won nine of the past 12 WCC Tournaments, each of its three losses have come to Saint Mary's. The Gaels play at the slowest pace in conference, thus limiting possessions and increasing variance.
The Gaels have a strong backcourt with senior Tommy Kuhse (12.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG) and junior Logan Johnson (12.8 PPG), who missed seven games this season with an ankle injury. Johnson has eight consecutive games with 10 or more points, while Kuhse had 10 points and seven assists in their first meeting.
Meanwhile, BYU is the last team to defeat Gonzaga in the regular season but has a significant decrease in talent compared to last year's team.
The Cougars beat the Bulldogs, 91-78, at home last season behind 44 combined points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists from Yoeli Childs and TJ Haws. Both players have since graduated, but the Cougars balance their four-guard alignment style with 7-foot-3 Purdue transfer Matt Haarms, who averages 11 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
BYU can still score the deep, leading the conference with 39.8% accuracy in WCC play. Alex Barcello (15.7 PPG, 48.9% 3P), Brandon Averette (11.4 PPG, 36.4% 3P), Caleb Lohner (7.3 PPG, 36% 3P), and Trevin Knell (5.9 PPG, 45.1% 3P) can all heat up quickly, giving BYU the ability to stay competitive with the Zags' offense.
The Cougars defense has actually improved, ranking 26th in adjusted defensive efficiency while holding opponents to just 44.8% from inside the arc. On paper, they would be the most likely team to upset the Zags.
BYU has the best WCC odds behind Gonzaga at +800, but it's hard to see the Bulldogs losing in the WCC finals. While I don't think Mark Few's team will stumble, Saint Mary's is the better bet due to the semifinal matchup and better potential payoff.
Photo Credit: Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
If you are looking for a longshot WCC bet, the choice is the No. 8 seed San Francisco Dons at +900.
Vegas is recognizing San Francisco's potential with the third-best odds to win the tournament (ahead of Saint Mary's) despite being one of the lowest seeds.
San Francisco saw early-season success with a shocking 61-60 victory over then-No. 4 Virginia in November, followed by a dominant 85-60 win at Nevada.
Head coach Todd Golden is one of the brightest young coaches in the country, a devout student of metric-based decisions.
The Dons feature a veteran backcourt of senior Jamaree Bouyea (17.5 PPG, 37.5% 3P) and junior Khalil Shabazz (15.6 PPG, 34.1% 3P). San Francisco also brings strong defensive pressure, ranking first in WCC play in defensive turnover rate.
San Francisco has failed to regain its early-season efficiency after a COVID-19 pause in late January, which has led to a six-game losing streak.
But with their talented backcourt, Golden's coaching ability, and their early-season successes, the Dons are worth consideration as a WCC betting dart throw.