Northwestern's First-Ever Tourney Will End vs. No. 1 Gonzaga

northwestern basketball

Jason Lake

Friday, March 17, 2017 1:14 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 17, 2017 1:14 PM UTC

The Gonzaga Bulldogs won by 20 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and they still didn’t beat the NCAAB odds. Maybe they’ll do better Saturday against the Northwestern Wildcats in the West Region.

No. 8 Northwestern vs. No. 1 Gonzaga

West Region Second Round, Salt Lake City, Saturday, 5:15 p.m. ET


Turns out that opening line was pretty much spot-on. The No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs started their March Madness journey as 20.5-point favorites on the NCAAB odds board for Thursday’s first-rounder against the No. 16 South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Then they moved to -23 in early betting, and we faded the 'Zags like there was no tomorrow. Final score: Gonzaga 66, SDSU 46.

Unfortunately, we didn’t fare as well when we faded the No. 8 Northwestern Wildcats. They nearly coughed it up to the Vanderbilt Commodores (–1), but Vandy guard Matthew Fisher-Davis committed an intentional foul he didn’t need to commit late, and the ‘Cats sank two free throws en route to a 68-66 victory. That sets up an intriguing Saturday game between old-school and new-school Cinderella stories. Gonzaga has opened as a 10.5-point favorite. Still too many points?

Dogs & Cats, Playing Together

Maybe not. FiveThirtyEight has projected the Bulldogs to win Saturday’s game 88 percent of the time, which is more like 11.5 or 12 points. And Ken Pomeroy thinks Gonzaga is good for about 17 points more per 100 possessions than Northwestern; again, call it 11.5 points if they get in around 68 possessions. Gonzaga’s got some wheels out there.

Gonzaga basketball chaplain Father Frank Case is here. I asked if it's OK to pray for basketball. He said, "Absolutely! I am right now!"

— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) March 16, 2017

Hey, Northwestern (24-11 SU, 20-12 ATS) is a great story, no doubt about it in its first-ever Big Dance. But covering against the Commodores is one thing. The Bulldogs (33-1 SU, 22-8-1 ATS) are the best team in Division I, according to the numbers, and they’re the best college basketball pick, too – even more profitable than the Wildcats this year. Bettors can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea of Gonzaga playing any other role than overachieving Cinderella. It might end up costing them.

NCAAB Free Pick: Gonzaga -10.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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