Gonzaga is already a conference champion; now the goal is to avoid any stumbles that might cost the Zags a No. 1 seed at the Dance. They're big favorites, once again, for tonight's game with San Diego in Spokane.
Toreros-Zags Betting Odds
The NCAA basketball odds, not surprisingly, moved toward Gonzaga and the OVER in the early betting; the Zags got pushed from -17 to 18 across the market, and the total rose from 132 to 134.
Gonzaga lost a game at Arizona in overtime back in early December, and has won every game since. Most recently the Bulldogs came from behind to win at St. Mary's last Saturday 70-60, and even pulled out a cover as six-point favorites, much to our delight. Gonzaga trailed that game by 16 in the first half, by 11 at the half and by nine with seven minutes to go, then finished with a 24-5 flourish.
But the Zags, with that gaudy record, have had trouble making money lately, going 5-8 ATS over their last 13 outings, mainly because they're favored by so darn much so often. Gonzaga missed the cover at -24 against Santa Clara by a bucket; by three points at -19 against Loyola; by a bucket at -20 against Portland; by a bucket at -15 again against Santa Clara; and by a bucket at -13 at San Francisco. Betting the Bulldogs lately hasn't exactly been good for either one's health or wallet.
At 28-1 overall and 16-0 in conference play the Zags have already clinched another WCC regular-season title, and are closing in on another No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament.
San Diego recently won five of six to pull back above the .500 mark, but has lost its last two, after falling at BYU last Thursday 75-62. The Toreros hung around for most of that contest, but in the end suffered a 38-23 disadvantage on the boards, and missed covering the spread at +12.
Just before that San Diego lost at home to St. Mary's in overtime 69-62, missing the cover there at +2. Actually, the Toreros are 4-4 ATS over their last eight games, but are about four baskets away from being 7-1 ATS over that span.
At 14-14 overall and 7-9 in conference play the Toreros have played almost exactly to preseason expectations.
Gonzaga took the first meeting between these teams this season 60-48 back in December down in San Diego. The Zags led by 15 at the half, pushed that to 22 halfway through the second half, allowed USD Diego to get within nine late, but hung on for the cover at -10. Gonzaga only shot 42 percent from the floor that night, and committed 14 turnovers, but the Toreros only shot 27 percent. Maybe that's why that game played way UNDER its total of 136.
Last season San Diego salvaged a split of two games with the Zags, and covered both meetings. The Toreros lost at Gonzaga 59-56, easily covering as 17-point dogs, then upset the Zags in San Diego 69-66, winning that game outright as seven-point home dogs.
By the Numbers
San Diego is shooting just 43 percent from the floor this season, but holding opponents to 43 percent shooting.
Gonzaga leads the nation in FG shooting at just under 53 percent, ranks seventh in 3-point shooting at 41 percent and 19th in FG defense, holding foes to just 38 percent. But some of that, of course, can be attributed to the Zags' schedule.
Toreros-Zags Betting Trends
San Diego is leaning toward the UNDERS this season by a 12-7 margin, as its games have averaged 129 points.
Gonzaga is 14-10 on the OVERS, as its games have averaged 140 points.
Toreros-Zags Free Pick
Gonzaga is very likely to win this game, but San Diego has shown us just enough, including a good defensive effort against the Zags earlier this season, to keep us interested. And in thinking this spread is probably inflated by a couple of buckets or so we'll take the Toreros with our college basketball picks, at +17.5 at Pinnacle.