The Gonzaga Bulldogs have finally beaten the NCAA basketball odds at the Big Dance. Now they get to play the South Carolina Gamecocks for a spot in the national championship game.
Final Four, Saturday, 6:10 pm E.T
NAT TV - CBS
And that’s how the West was won. The No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs finally had one of those monster games they enjoyed throughout the regular season, running though the Xavier Musketeers 83-59 as 8.5-point favorites on the March Madness closing line to earn their first-ever trip to the Final Four. Good thing we stuck with Gonzaga’s full body of work instead of riding the hot hand.
What’s this? The Bulldogs are facing another pseudo-Cinderella team? The No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks have also reached the Final Four for the first time, downing the No. 4 Florida Gators (-3) 77-70 to win the East Region. That means the ‘Cocks will face the ‘Zags this Saturday (6:09 p.m. ET, CBS) at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., with the winner going on to the national championship Game. The Bulldogs have opened as 6.5-point favorites on the NCAAB odds board.
We’re inclined to treat this game the same way we did the Gonzaga-Xavier matchup. The Gamecocks (26-10 SU, 15-16-2 ATS) have performed better overall than the Musketeers; FiveThirtyEight gives them a 31 percent chance of upsetting the ‘Zags (36-1 SU, 23-9-2 ATS), which works out to around +5.5 according to Wizard of Odds, so there might be some betting value with the underdogs. But once again, Ken Pomeroy thinks more highly of Gonzaga, rating them over 12 points better than the ‘Cocks per 100 possessions. That’s about 8.5 points if they get in 69 possessions on Saturday. Tee-hee.
As the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) said, the final will be UNC vs Gonzaga & nothing has…— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 26, 2017
As it turns out, Sports Reference also has the ‘Zags (+25.57 SRS) rated nearly 8.5 points better per game than South Carolina (+17.10 SRS), using their Simple Rating System. So let’s stick with the program and keep riding the Bulldogs for our college basketball picks. There may also be some value on the 'under' with the total checking in at 138 points; these are the two best defensive teams in Division I according to Pomeroy’s stats, but Gonzaga is much, much better on offense. Grab them cakes! And may the sphere be with you at the Final Four.