West Coast Division: Perennial Powerhouse Gonzaga Our NCAA Basketball Pick Over BYU

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, January 14, 2016 4:27 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 4:27 PM UTC

West Coast Conference rivals collide as BYU, gunning for their fourth consecutive win, takes on Gonzaga. Let’s review what the college basketball odds makers are offering.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Gonzaga -7½ 
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


BYU (12-5 SU, 8-5 ATS in lined games)
After demolishing West Coast Conference rivals Pacific and Santa Clara as double digit favorites, the NCAA basketball odds makers hung a number that even the Cougars couldn’t overcome when they hosted San Francisco as 17 point home chalk in their last outing. When the final buzzer sounded BYU dribbled away with a 102-92 victory that notched another win over a conference opponent but failed to cover the heavy lumber that those who included the Cougars in their NCAA basketball picks were laying.

Senior guard Chase Fisher dropped 25 on the Dons while freshman Nick Emery chipped in 21 in the 10 point victory over San Francisco. The 102 points proved to be a season high for the Cougars though the 92 points scored by their opponents tied for the most points allowed. The only other game in which they allowed that many was in a 92-83 loss to the Buffaloes in Colorado as five-point road underdogs.


Gonzaga (13-3 SU, 4-9 ATS in lined games)
Gonzaga has won its last seven games yet has failed to cover the all-important number in their last three. Installed as 15-point road favorites when they traveled to Santa Clara on December 31st, the Bulldogs escaped with a 79-77 victory. They followed that with a visit to San Francisco two days later and defeated the Dons 102-94 (a remarkably similar score to BYU’s 102-92 win over the same opponent) but fell well short of the 13 ½ point impost that oddsmakers hung as road favorites. In their last outing they defeated another conference foe when they came out on top of an 85-74 decision over Portland but once again failed to cover another big number as 19-point home chalk. Nevertheless, the Zags improved to 5-0 in conference play and are now sitting at the top of the WCC.

Senior forward Kyle Wiltjer scored 32 in his last game against Portland and leads the team in that department averaging 21.5 points per game while sophomore forward Domantas Sabonis has been a monster on the glass with 11 rebounds per contest and an 18.9 PPG scoring average. The Bulldogs as a team are averaging 80.4 points per game which ties them for 47th in the nation. Defensively they are 78th in the country allowing 66.9 points per game. Their work down low has been impressive grabbing an average of 41.4 boards per game (27th).


Betting Analysis
The last time these two teams tangoed was in the conference championship at a neutral site where the Zags prevailed 91-75 as eight-point favorites. This will be the first time this season the West Coast Conference powers clash and the venue favors Gonzaga. However, they will meet again on BYU’s home court on the last game of the regular season and perhaps again for another conference championship tilt. It should be another high scoring affair but the Zags have history on their side as the home team is 9-2-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings between the two schools.

The offenses of both teams are clicking with BYU averaging 84.8 points per game (14th) while Gonzaga scores 80.4 PPG (tied for 47th). But the defenses may tell the tale with Gonzaga allowing 66.9 PPG (78th) while the Cougars surrender an average of 73.7 (229th). I believe BYU is the kind of team that bullies the weak kids but wilts when confronted by the power teams. The Cougars have been underdogs on three occasions this season. They lost each of those games and covered only one, as 10-point dogs to Utah when they lost by eight. Some will say BYU has revenge on their minds from last season’s conference championship loss but that is oftentimes overblown. There is still a long way to go until March Madness and this one will be a sobering dose of reality for BYU that Gonzaga and St. Mary’s are the true powers of the WCC while the Cougars are not quite at that level.  

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