Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs have sneaked up to No. 3 in the country, and look to keep it going with a college basketball odds matchup at the surprising Pepperdine Waves.
Tune into almost any college hoops talk show right now and the vast majority of the discussion centers on Kentucky going to overtime twice last week to stay unbeaten, Virginia needing a late push to avoid being upset at Notre Dame, or Duke suffering back-to-back losses in the ACC.
Why, it's almost as if the Gonzaga Bulldogs didn't exist at all.
Playing out west in a non-Power 6 conference is part of the reason Gonzaga remains in the shadows despite a 16-1 record that is blemished only by an overtime loss at then-No. 3 Arizona about five weeks ago. The Bulldogs are likely to remain fairly anonymous for at least a few more days with a pair of West Coast Conference road tilts this week, neither of which will be seen by more than just a few small TV markets.
That's a real shame since the first of those two contests comes against a pretty good Pepperdine Waves squad. Tip-off at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu is set for a little past 10:30 PM (ET) on Thursday, the Zags favored by an even dozen.
SBR's live NCAA basketball odds should have a total a bit later this morning.
It has been almost exactly 13 years since Pepperdine last tasted victory against Gonzaga, that get-together taking place in Malibu on January 18, 2002 when the Waves pulled of an 88-79 decision. The Bulldogs ran their win streak to 26 by winning both meetings last season, covering each time to stand 19-4-3 vs. the spread in that span.
Last season's totals split, the 'under' bringing home the cheddar in the matchup at Pepperdine for the lone low-side winner in the last five clashes.
Zags Head Back Out On Conference Road
Gonzaga (16-1 straight up, 8-4-2 against the spread) was fetching a 40/1 price on the NCAA Basketball futures odds to win the National Championship just a little more than two months ago, a number that looks awfully tasty now that the Bulldogs are listed in the 15/1 to 18/1 range at various outlets.
Mark Few's gang has reeled off nine consecutive victories since a tough 66-63 setback at Arizona in early-December, covering three of their five conference tilts along with a push. The offense, paced by Kyle Wiltjer's 16.4 PPG clip, has been a big part of the streak with the club hitting 52.5% of its field goal tries in six of the nine wins.
The Bulldogs will follow this game up with a stop in Los Angeles proper for a Saturday tussle with Loyola Marymount. That matchup against the Lions will leave Gonzaga with just four more road tilts on the regular season slate compared to eight WCC contests left to play at home.
Waves Rolling Back Home After Pair Of Underdog Road Wins
For the fourth consecutive season under head coach Marty Wilson, Pepperdine (11-5 SU, 11-3 ATS) appears to be headed towards improvement in the win column. Wilson took over a program that had suffered seven consecutive losing campaigns, and while his first three seasons at the helm have also culminated in sub-.500 records, the Waves were just a win away from getting over that hump a year ago.
College basketball bettors certainly don't have much to complain about so far this season with the Waves cashing 11 of the 14 lined games. They are coming off a pair of road wins last week, each one as the underdog and including a big 71-61 upset at BYU where oddsmakers were giving Pepperdine 15 points.
Gonzaga is playing about as well as anyone in the country right now, and the Bulldogs have a pretty good record covering spreads in Malibu. History is on my side for a free NCAA Basketball pick on the visitors.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Gonzaga -12 at 5Dimes
Season: 15-19 (-5.90)