Gonzaga to Take Advantage of San Diego State's Pace of Play

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, December 21, 2017 1:52 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 1:52 PM UTC

Mark Lathrop looks to finish his NCAAB non-conference picks on a strong note as he investigates a great game out west between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and San Diego State Aztecs. Read on as this 19-8 ATS capper gives his pick on the total and side.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 19-8 (+10.50 Units)

No. 12 Gonzaga Bulldogs at San Diego State AztecsFree NCAAB Picks: Zags -4 & Over 151.5Best Lines Offered: BetOnline

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In what is the last resume-building game before the beginning of conference play for these two mid-majors, the Gonzaga Bulldogs travel to San Diego State on Thursday evening. Gonzaga comes into the game at 10-2 SU with losses only to top-ranked Villanova and double OT to ranked Florida. The Aztecs are 7-3 SU, with losses to highly-regarded Arizona State, but also to Pac-12 Washington State and California. Those last two teams are ranked 177th and 161st in Kenpom.com rankings, while Gonzaga currently sits at 12th. The line has naturally opened up with Gonzaga as a road favorite and can be found at -4.5 at early listing sites such as BetOnline. The O/U total has opened at 151.5 at books such as BookMaker.

Both teams have a balanced scoring attack, with San Diego State having four players scoring in double digits and Gonzaga having five. Even though he is not the leading scorer for the Aztecs, 6’ 10” senior forward Malik Pope is the difference-maker for them as he adds 7.0 rebounds per game to his 12.6 points. Gonzaga also has a big man making a difference in 6’ 9” senior forward, Johnathan Williams, who averages 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Williams and 6’ 10” sophomore forward Killian Tillie (12.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG), were benched after their effort in Gonzaga’s 89-83 OT win against North Dakota as 30-point favorites. They came off of the bench against IUPUI and apparently the message was received with the two having huge performances. Tillie scored 27 points ,including being a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, and Williams added 17 points and 14 rebounds. Seeing those two match up with Pope will be a treat.

The Aztecs play an up-tempo offense that ranks 30th in the nation in possession length. They are also an aggressive team that likes to draw fouls and score from the charity stripe. They pick up 21.8% of their points from free throws, which is in the top 20% of the NCAA. Gonzaga has a more balanced attack that is efficient as well, ranking 7th in kenpom.com offensive efficiency rankings. They shoot an insane 60.4% from 2-point range – a testament to the dominance of their big men on the season.

For motivational factors, Gonzaga needs this win to pad its resume more than San Diego State does at the moment. The WCC is a weaker conference and Gonzaga’s RPI rankings will begin to plummet once conference play begins. This played out in Saint Mary’s game on Tuesday against Dayton, as they covered easily against public money pounding the Flyers. San Diego State should be able to pick up plenty of clock-stopped scoring opportunities on its home court at the foul line, though, so I’m a bit hesitant to take Gonzaga on the side. That is eased by Tillian and Williams’ recent performance; however, the pace of play by the Aztecs should give them plenty of opportunities to score. This being my last pick until after Christmas, I will leave you with a holiday gift of two picks: Gonzaga -4 and Over 151.5 for your Thursday NCAAB card.

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