NCAA Basketball Pick: Santa Clara +13 over Gonzaga

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Gonzaga is ranked third in the nation and 12-0 in conference play, but one of their toughest WCC games was vs. Santa Clara in a game the Broncos did not shoot threes as well as usual.

After giving the third ranked team in the country a tough time the first time these teams met, the underdog looks live again late Wednesday night when the Santa Clara Broncos (19-8, 6-3 away) pay a visit to the Gonzaga Bulldogs (25-2, 12-1 home) at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, WA at 11:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at Bodog has Santa Clara as a double-digit road underdog for this contest with the current line at +13 with odds of -110.

Gonzaga is ranked third in the country in the polls, sixth overall on the Pomeroy Ratings and is a perfect 12-0 in West Coast Conference play, but remember that the WCC is a weak conference that is probably holding the Bulldogs back from being ranked higher on Pomeroy, and despite the weak competition Gonzaga is only 2-3 ATS in conference home games thus far.

The problem for the Zags here is that they are actually playing one of the better teams in the conference in the 19-8 Broncos, who are definitely a step up in class from the San Francisco Dons, who the Bulldogs failed to cover the spread against in a 71-61 win in their last game on Saturday. That definitely makes this large spread look like a big overlay.

Santa Clara is a veteran team that returns practically its entire roster from last season, and that helped the Broncos get off to an 11-3 start in non-conference play this season and play Duke tough at Cameron Indoor Stadium for one of its non-conference losses. Unfortunately Santa Clara has slumped to 7-5 during WCC play but it did give Gonzaga a tough time the first time these teams meet in Santa Clara.

Gonzaga won that game by seven points 81-74 despite the Broncos shooting just 7-23 from beyond the three-point arc, including only 2-for-12 by the all-time leader in three-point field goals made in WCC history in Kevin Foster. The Broncos are shooting 36.1 percent on three-pointers for the season and they have not minded travelling either, in fact shooting a better 39.9 percent from beyond the arc on the road!

Santa Clara gets 32.7 percent of its points from three-point shots compared to the national average of 27.5 percent, so if it can still hang with Gonzaga the first time without the best part of its offense clicking, why can’t the Broncos hang tough again with more “normal” shooting?

Besides one of the weakest parts of the entire Gonzaga team is team is three-point defense, where it ranks 125th nationally. That lacking perimeter defense is the primary reason for both of Gonzaga’s losses this season, as Illinois and Butler both hit slightly above 42 percent on three-point attempts in the two defeats!

Now we are not saying that Santa Clara will win this game, but they could certainly make things rather uncomfortable for the Bulldogs in the later stages on Wednesday.

[gameodds]14/221455/92-238-19-93-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Santa Clara +13 (-110)