Close Contest Leads To Saint Mary's Cover at Gonzaga

Saint Mary's Gaels

Willie Bee

Saturday, January 14, 2017 5:09 PM GMT

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 5:09 PM GMT

One of five battles between ranked teams on Saturday's college basketball betting slate, early supremacy in the WCC will be decided when Saint Mary's travels to Gonzaga.

Season: 21-21-1 (-2.10)

Back in October when I first started to take a serious look at the 2016-17 college basketball season, the first two dates circled on my calendar were January 14 and February 11. Well, here we are at the first of those two, and I'm just as excited now to see the Saint Mary's Gaels tangle with the Gonzaga Bulldogs as I was then.

There's no excuse for anyone to miss this collision of conference titans with ESPN2 carrying the tip-off from McCarthey Athletic Center a little past 10 PM (ET). BetOnline sent this one out with Gonzaga laying 6 before the spread was almost immediately adjusted to -7½, the scoreboard barrier jumping up one point from the initial offering to 135½.

 

Gaels, Bulldogs Coming Off Thursday Routs

I had originally wondered if either or both teams might get caught looking ahead to this matchup when they played Thursday, but it's obvious now they were entirely focused on their opponents that night. Saint Mary's (15-1 straight up, 8-4-1 against the spread) was favored by 13½ on the NCAA basketball odds against Portland, and the Gaels demolished the Pilots in a 74-33 laugher. Randy Bennett's boys played solid defense to deserve some of the credit, but was also the second time in seven days that Portland went stone-cold on the offensive end with just 12 field goals on the evening, only four of them coming in the first half.

Gonzaga (16-0 SU, 11-2 ATS) broke its game with Loyola Marymount open in the second half en route to a 93-55 victory as 20 point chalk. The 'Zags distributed the scoring well with 21 assists and six players in double-figures, the team shooting over 55% from beyond the arc (10-18). Mark Few's crew is averaging better than 90 PPG in four conference contests and continues to blister the nets with a 50.2% field goal rate, good enough for ninth in the country.

 

Gaels Aim For 2nd-Straight Win In Spokane

The schools are meeting for the 92nd time and it's Gonzaga with an overwhelming 63-28 advantage, a record that includes a 6-2 mark in WCC Championship games. Saint Mary's took both regular season matchups a year ago before the Bulldogs bested the Gaels in the conference title tilt. The 63-58 win in Spokane was the first road triumph in the series for Saint Mary's since 2011, and the Gaels did it as 5½ point underdogs. The two regular season clashes stayed 'under' totals around 138 before the WCC tourney battle was an easy 'over' winner on a 134½ total.

Which team can best slough off early tightness that a game like this can produce might end up being the difference, but their play two days ago tells me both teams are coming in raring to go. That has me expecting a closely-contested battle which leads me to make my free college basketball pick on the underdog Gaels.

Free NCAAB Pick: Saint Mary's +7½ Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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