Pepperdine vs. Gonzaga: Big Defensive Battle Makes 'Under' the NCAA Basketball Pick

Charles Stark

Monday, December 21, 2015 1:22 PM GMT

It always seems to make sense that Gonzaga will be a big favorite on the NCAA basketball odds because they tend to blow people out in their house but Pepperdine team comes in pretty confident.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2946813, "sportsbooksIds":[169,1096,93,19,92,238], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 134.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

NCAA basketball odds have come out making the total 134.5 and the spread at 10.5 favoring the Zags. For one of my selections today I will back under the total and look for a really hard-fought contest between two of the best defensive teams in the WCC. Although it is always nice to take over the total because Gonzaga usually puts up big numbers, today won't be the case.

 

Pepperdine Waves
Pepperdine comes in averaging 69.2 points per game while shooting 42.8% for the field, and allowing 66.3 points per game on also 42.8% shooting from the field. Offensively there is nothing that really stands out with this Pepperdine team but in the last four years they have improved their win total every season and they have every key player returning last year's team. Senior forward Stacy Davis is again leading the way for Pepperdine and this team should come in with a lot of confidence with their five-game winning streak. The Waves don't do anything particularly superior on the offense end, but in their streak they are averaging over 70 points per game which I think has helped push this total up. However, defensively is where Pepperdine get it done and last year they limited opponents to just 61.6 points per game and this year we are seeing similar statistics with their returners. They are one of the best teams in the country allowing just 28.2% from beyond the arc which ranks 20th in the country. As well, this is the same team that held Gonzaga to their second lowest point total of the year, allowing them to score just 56 points in Gonzaga. Gonzaga's lowest point total last year? Well that would be to national champion Duke scoring just 52 points in the elite eight.

 

Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Bulldogs are averaging 75.1 point per game while shooting 47% from the field, and allowing 64 points per game on 38.2% shooting from the field. Offensively they are one of the most dangerous teams in the country in the interior averaging 53.8% on their two point shots with their strong frontcourt. They don't shoot the three particularly well at just 32.5% and as mentioned Pepperdine should be able to shut that aspect down. Also, they are great rebounding team averaging 42.5 rebounds per game which ranks 19th in the country. Defensively Gonzaga seems to get overlooked at just how good they are, on this end their scoring defense ranks 34th in the country and they are great at limiting assists at just 9.2 per game which ranks seventh. Like Pepperdine they are great at defending the perimeter allowing just 27.5% from distance, furthermore they are solid all around ranking 25th in the country and opponent shooting percentage from the field. This a well coached defense with one of the best coaches in the country and Mark Few.

With neither team probably scoring much beyond the arc I look for real grinder in this contest. I expect Pepperdine to keep the pace down the best they can in order to have a shot at the upset. For one of your NCAA basketball picks today I recommend backing under the total.  This game should stay well below the number as I look for a tremendous defensive battle between these two solid defensive teams.