Fast Pace Leads to Scoring in Cross-State Rivalry

Mark Lathrop

Sunday, December 10, 2017 5:18 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 5:18 PM UTC

The two teams in the NCAAB finale on Sunday evening could not have had different results leading up to this game. Read on as our NCAAB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, focuses us on the stats that matter for Gonzaga vs. Washington.

Free NCAAB Picks: OVER
Best Lines Available at Bovada
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In a continuing series of cross-state rivals, the Gonzaga Bulldogs travel to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies in themarque game on Sunday night. The series has been very lopsided over the last decade though, with coach Mark Few of Gonzaga getting the best of the Huskies in 10 of his last 11 matchups. They won’t be overlooking Washington in this game though, especially after the Huskies stunned the 2nd ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Wednesday night, 74-65. Many Washington players had outlier career performances in that game, but I do believe it has effected this line. Right now, you can find the 12th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs as just 8.5-point favorites at books such as Heritage.

What strikes me as the deciding factor in this game is the Gonzaga offense versus the Washington defense. Gonzaga has the 12th most efficient offense in the country according to kenpom.com, yet the Washington defense efficiency is ranked 173rd. Broken down even further the comparison’s get even more out of hand with Gonzaga shooting a blistering 59.5% from 2pt range, good for 12th in the country, and Washington allowing a 54.4% 2pt shooting percentage – ranked 282nd. The Huskies have put up this terrible ranking in the beginning part of their schedule, which has included some cupcake game. That won’t be the case here with Gonzaga coming to town.

The Bulldogs should be motivated in this game after losing to Villanova by the biggest margin in a regular season game since 2012. Turnovers were the reason for that loss, as Gonzaga turned the ball over 19 times. They failed to shoot their way back in the game by hitting just 27.3% from 3pt range. This will be their first true road game of the season as well, although they’ve done plenty of traveling in non-conference play. Three of their neutral court games were in Portland, Oregon – a mere 5 hour’s drive from Spokane.

The Huskies have a new coach this year in Mike Hopkins, and a new defensive 2-3 zone scheme to learn. They obviously clicked on all cylinders against Kansas, but it has been a steep learning curve according to the statistics. Washington also likes to push tempo on offense, with a below average possession length that could be even more fast at home. Gonzaga is also more than willing to play fast on offense and averages 90.6 points per game on the year.

With this being the first true road game of the year for Gonzaga I am hesitant to back them as steep road chalk. They should score though against that Washington defense, and Washington’s pace at home should allow them some success as well. With a total currently sitting at 156.5, I will back the Over in this game as my Sunday NCAAB pick.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 13-4, +8.75 Unit

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