NCAA Basketball Picks: Go 'Under' In Defensive Battle Between Gonzaga & St. Mary's

Charles Stark

Thursday, January 21, 2016 12:35 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 12:35 PM UTC

The West Coast Conference's two top teams battle it out Thursday night when Gonzaga visits St. Mary's. Don't miss this preview and find out what's our NCAA basketball pick for the night.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 137.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


NCAA Basketball Odds Overview
NCAA basketball odds boards have come out with the total for this game at 137.5 like at Bookmaker -110. At first glance, this total seem low with both teams averaging around 80 points per game. Once we break down the matchups, history, and defense of these two squads, I anticipate a low scoring affair tonight in Moraga. For my NCAA basketball pick, I will back under the total in this spot.


Gonzaga Bulldogs
Gonzaga is averaging 79.8 points per game while shooting 48.8% from the field, and allowing 67.1 points per game on 39.5% shooting from the field. On the year they're 8-8 overall on their over/under totals and 4-3 on their road contests. The Bulldogs have had their struggles this season, and are no longer a lock to win the WCC. Despite struggling a bit this season, which I actually think is a little bit overblown, this is a really good team on both sides of the floor, and offensively, they rank in the top 20 in both shooting efficiency and effective field-goal percentage. They have a lot of weapons led by Kyle Wiltjer and they can score from the inside out averaging 37.8% from beyond the arc and 54% on their two point shooting. On the defensive side, they have been extremely good and will have their hands full tonight against a St. Mary's team that ranks first in the country in some important offensive categories. Defensively, Gonzaga allows only 29.4% shooting from beyond the arc which ranks 13th in the country, and they rank 14th and 15th in opponent shooting efficiency, and opponent effective field-goal percentage respectively. Stopping St. Mary's on the road will be a difficult task, but Gonzaga is accustomed to playing in this building, and I look for them to give the Gaels a tough battle from the inside out.


St. Mary's College
St. Mary's is averaging 78.4 points per game while shooting 53.7% from the field, and allowing 58.1 points per game on 38.9% shooting from the field. They are 6-8 overall on their over/under totals on the season and 5-5 at home. This could possibly be the best team St. Mary's has ever had, possibly, and as of right now, they lead the country in shooting percentage, effective field-goal percentage, shooting efficiency, and three point shooting percentage. They also move the ball effectively, ranking fifth in the country averaging 19 assists per game. Head coach Randy Bennett, whom I expect to move on to a bigger school within the next few years, is an extremely good basketball coach and understands the premium placed on defense. Along with their efficient offense St. Mary's has been very tough on the other side of the floor and rank 16th in opponent shooting percentage and 10th in opponent field goals made per game allowing just 21.2 per contest. They also do not allow a lot of second chance shots and allow opponents only 27.6 total rebounds per game which ranks first in the country. Tonight in Moraga, they will be extremely fired up to take on Gonzaga, however, I think coach Bennett knows that to win this game, they have to do it on the defensive end.

This has all the makings of an excellent matchup which could really go either way in my opinion. In the last few seasons, though, when these two teams have gotten together, they have not exploded the scoreboard with more tempo controlled defensive games and Gonzaga coming out on top. The latter part of that sentence might not come true tonight, but the real value in my opinion on this game is on the under. For one of your Thursday's college basketball picks, I recommend backing under the total in this game that will put one team in the driver's seat to win the WCC.

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