NCAA Basketball Picks: Can the Zags Make it to No. 1 Seed After Tonight's Clash Against BYU?

Joe Gavazzi

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 2:14 PM GMT

Our expert NCAA Basketball handicapper explores this matchup between BYU and Gonzaga while giving you his NCAA basketball pick at no cost and explains his reasoning as to why they're his favorites.

BYU vs. Gonzaga
The BYU Cougars and the Gonzaga Bulldogs meet for the WCC Championship tonight at 9:00 pm ET. The cougars are listed on the NCAA Basketball Odds as short underdogs, and the game will be played at a neutral site, the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Neither of these teams was overwhelmed by the bright lights of Vegas with strong performances in the semi-finals of this event, despite having 48 hours to get into trouble, since their previous games on Saturday night. Gonzaga used a strong 2nd half performance to outlast Pepperdine (79-61).  This victory for Gonzaga allowed the Zags to reach their 18th consecutive WCC Tourney Final. The Bulldogs shot 58% in the 2nd half with their defense causing a series of TOs that clearly turned the momentum in their favor.  The win was a 2nd comfortable victory in this event as the Zags overwhelmed San Francisco (81-72) in the Quarter Finals. The BYU victory over Portland came in a different manner. The Cougars bolted to a 42-24 halftime lead, and then cruised to an 84-70 victory. The Cougars, who are the nation’s highest scoring team, shot 55% from the field and made 10/21 three-pointers, good for 43%.  Haas (18), Fischer (24) and Collingsworth (13) led the way.  But, it was the performance of Collingsworth, who also snagged 14 rebounds and dished out 11 assists for his 6th triple-double of the season that was most impressive.  He is now tied with 2 others for the most triple-doubles in a season. With that victory by BYU and an earlier (73-70) upset at Gonzaga to close the regular season on February 28th, the Cougars most probably have their ticket scanned for the NCAA tournament

 

It is that most recent meeting between these two that we will use for a prime motivator in this game.  Entering that contest, Gonzaga had won 22 consecutive games to boost their record to 29-1 SU.  Before that game, they were also 15-0 SU at home, vying for consecutive undefeated home court seasons.  But, the Cougars played their best game of the season in the 73-70 upset. It was keyed by their “bubble” motivation and came with the benefit of a 12 point underdog line.  Clearly, BYU is the best offensive team in CBKB. They averaged 84 PPG on 47% from the field, 39% from the arc, while converting 77% of their FTs.  A 16.9/11.7 TO/assist ratio rounds out the offensive package. The Zags are not far behind, averaging 79/52/40/70 with a 16.5/10.7 TO/assist ratio.  But along with that revenge motive for their only home court loss in 2 years, the difference in this game will be defense.  While BYU is allowing 72 PPG, Gonzaga qualifies as a true Defensive Dandy. The Zags allow just 61 PPG on 38% shooting, 32% from the arc, along with that they have a dominant 7.6 rebound margin and a positive TO margin.  

In short, this team has the whole package and is a bona fide Final Four participant. Now that the Cougars have their NCAA invite in their pocket, all the motivation falls to the avenging Zags with the better defense and better rebounding. Look for a resounding, double-digit win as the Zags make their final case for a No. 1 seed and back them with your NCAA Basketball picks.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Take Gonzaga

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