'Zags Shoot Down Pilots In Portland

Willie Bee

Saturday, January 7, 2017 3:17 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 3:17 PM UTC

Look for another win to be tacked onto Gonzaga's ledger tonight when the Bulldogs head to Portland as heavy favorites on the NCAA basketball odds vs. the Pilots.

What looked like a potential battle of unbeaten co-leaders in the West Coast Conference fizzled out Thursday night when the Portland Pilots went colder than winter storm Helena that is busting through much of the country right now. The Pilots now have to quickly regroup and ready themselves for the No. 5/4 Gonzaga Bulldogs who arrive in Rose City for a late game on Saturday.

Tip-off at Chiles Center is a little past 10 PM (ET), ESPN3 streaming the matchup that now finds the clubs a game apart in the WCC standings. Bookmaker started the Bulldogs at -17 before the market deemed that spread a tad too high and brought the number down a half-point, the total currently at 146.


Pilots Must Recover From Poor Shooting Effort At Santa Clara

Joining Baylor as the only teams without a loss this season, Gonzaga (15-0 straight up, 10-2 against the spread) reaches Portland off its 8th-straight cover in Thursday's 95-80 triumph at San Francisco. The Bulldogs were favored by 14 on the NCAA basketball odds board to just cash for their backers and blistered the Dons with their best shooting performance of the campaign connecting on 36-of-59 (61%) from the field. That leaves the 'Zags right at 50% for the season, good enough for ninth in the country.

If anything about the win at San Francisco troubled head coach Mark Few, it was 14 turnovers and a few players getting into early foul trouble. But he had to be pleased with the performance overall off the bench by Killian Tillie, easily the best game so far for the freshman who scored a career-high 12 while grabbing eight rebounds.

While the Bulldogs were shooting lights out, the lights went out on Portland (9-6 SU, 6-6-1 ATS) in a 70-42 defeat at Santa Clara. The Pilots only managed to sink 13 field goals in 43 tries, only one of them coming in the final 13 minutes while also committing 17 turnovers. Terry Porter's troops now face the unenviable task of facing Gonzaga followed by Saint Mary's back-to-back, the Gaels also winning Thursday night with an 81-68 triumph over BYU.


'Zags Have Owned Portland Last 14 seasons

To say Gonzaga has had a stranglehold on this rivalry of late would be a vast understatement. The Bulldogs have won 26 of the last 27 meetings, Portland's only victory in that stretch coming about three years ago at Chiles Center, an 82-73 upset getting 8½ at home. The last three meetings have gone 'over' the totals which ranged from 154½ to 158, and last three played in Portland also skipped past the marks.

Was Portland's performance a couple of days ago a case of the Pilots looking ahead to this matchup with Gonzaga? Maybe, though that won't help them against the Bulldogs tonight. I'm playing the road favorites for my free college basketball pick.


Free NCAAB Pick: Gonzaga -16½Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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