Saint Mary’s (14-8) vs Gonzaga (24-0)
When: Monday, March 8th, 2021
Where: Orleans Arena,
Las Vegas, NV
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Gonzaga -17.5/142
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Only four teams since the Indiana Hoosiers perfect run in 1975-76 have entered the NCAA Tournament without a loss. The Gonzaga Bulldogs can become the fifth team with just two more wins this week in Las Vegas during the West Coast Conference Tournament. The Bulldogs will need to get past rivals Saint Mary’s and most-likely BYU in order to complete a 26-0 regular season. It’s no surprise that Gonzaga is almost a 20-point favorite coming into this contest since they have won every game but one by double-digits. The Gaels will look to pull the major upset as 17.5-point underdogs on Monday in hopes of getting back into the WCC Championship Game on Tuesday against the winner of the Pepperdine-BYU contest. The teams have often matched up in the WCC title game, with the Bulldogs winning eight titles and Saint Mary’s three since the tourney moved to Las Vegas in 2009. Fourth-seeded Saint Mary’s defeated No. 5-seed Loyola Marymount 52-47 Saturday night in the quarterfinals, but shot less than 40 percent from the field. That won’t work against the Zags on Monday. Gonzaga earned a triple-bye into the WCC semifinals and have had nine days off entering Monday’s game. The Bulldogs swept the Gaels during the regular season, winning 73-59 in Moraga, Calif., and 87-65 in Spokane.
The Gaels have one of the worst offenses in the country and showed it again on Saturday in the win over Loyola. They made just 2-of-15 from beyond the arc and rank 319th in the country in shooting the 3 (30.1 percent). Logan Johnson scored nearly half the Gaels’ points (25) as the only other player to score in double-figures was Tommy Kuhse with 12. On the other hand, Saint Mary’s has the best scoring defense in the WCC, having allowed just 64.4 points in conference games during the regular season. The Gaels are also not very deep, as only one player logged significant minutes off the bench on Saturday. The under is 4-0 in Saint Mary’s last four games overall.
The last time the Bulldogs were on the court, they routed Loyola Marymount in an 86-69 home win to complete an undefeated regular season. During WCC play, the Bulldogs have averaged 92.9 points on a 55.3 percent shooting from the field. They also shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first meeting with Saint Mary’s then went 61.1 percent from the floor in the second showdown. The Bulldogs average an NCAA Division I-leading 92.7 points per game, more than seven points better than anyone else. They’re led by guard Corey Kispert (19.5 points), forward Drew Timme (18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds) and guard Jalen Suggs (13.9 points, 4.5 assists).
The Gaels are no match for Gonzaga in this one. Saint Mary’s really struggles shooting the ball and we’ve already seen the Bulldogs offense shred the Gaels’ defense. Gonzaga wins by at least 20 here.
Pick: Gonzaga -17.5