Gonzaga vs Saint Mary’s: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (2/26/22)

Gonzaga vs Saint Mary’s Betting Odds

West Coast Conference play ends this Saturday, and this will be Gonzaga’s final chance to drop a game before March.

Saint Mary’s is hoping it can finally get the better of Gonzaga. The Gaels have had an astounding season and currently sit at No. 23 in the AP Poll. They’ve picked up wins over San Francisco and BYU in the last two weeks and crushed San Diego on Thursday. Saint Mary’s is clearly the second-best team in the WCC.

But can the Gaels present any kind of challenge against Gonzaga?

Gonzaga Bulldogs Odds

There’s nothing this conference can do to beat Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs are winning by an average margin of 30 points per game. Every challenge that has been presented has been washed away, as the Bulldogs have beaten every KenPom top-100 team in the conference by double digits.

Chet Holmgren has turned this team into a different kind of force. The Bulldogs haven’t paced the nation in effective field goal percentage since 2017 when Mark Few’s squad made the National Championship game.

But Holmgren’s rim protection services make it impossible to score at the rim. He’s 14th nationally in block rate this season, recording a whopping 3.5 per game.

On the other end of the floor, he’s making 73% of his 2-point attempts and 84% of his attempts at the rim – he’s third among all Division-I players in effective field goal percentage. He also is shooting a whopping 45% from 3 while running the fast-break at 7-foot-1.

He can really do it all.

Screen Shot 2022 02 25 at 2.00.47 PM

Holmgren’s percentile rankings in major statistical categories this season. Image credit: CBB Analytics

The rest of the team is the same. Andrew Nembhard and Drew Timme are excellent, and the Bulldogs just win every game by a ton. There’s not much else to write about the No. 1 team in the nation.

Saint Mary’s Gaels Odds

I had the pleasure of watching the Gaels live the other night. Here’s a list of knee-jerk observations I made at the game:

First: The team communicates better than anyone in the country.

Second: On defense, the Gaels are so quick with rotations and can immediately stifle any kind of ball movement. The backcourt is also great at staying with cutters and perimeter shooters. There’s a reason Saint Mary’s is first in opponent assist rate and fifth in opponent 3-point.

Third: On offense, the ball movement is insane. Everyone makes the right basketball decision, and the passes are very crisp. Drives, kicks, cross-court skip-passes, passing around the perimeter – everything is easy for the Gaels. Plus, everyone outside of center Matthias Tass can shoot the 3.

Fourth: Matthias Tass is the most underrated big man in the conference. He has great footwork in the low post, allowing him to dominate defenders with only three or four moves. And given how the Gaels can rotate defenses, he was able to get a favorable matchup constantly. Plus, he’s a much better passer than many give him credit for, as his court vision was great when he got doubled.

Fifth: Tommy Kuhse is so savvy as a ball-handler. He’s great at dribble penetration, running underneath the basket and then finding the open man, running ball-screen offenses, and scoring in the pick-and-roll.

Granted, this was all against San Diego, the 218th ranked team in KenPom. But the Gaels are 23-6 with three Quad 1 wins for all the reasons listed above.

Saint Mary’s is slotted for an eight-seed currently. A loss against Gonzaga won’t change that, but a first-round knockout in the WCC tournament might. Therefore, we might be catching the Gaels looking ahead in this spot.

Gonzaga vs Saint Mary’s Prediction and Pick

My Pick: Saint Mary’s +10 or better

The world was on San Francisco in the Bulldogs’ last game. As a 10.5-point road favorite, Gonzaga would finally stumble and fail to cover against another top-tier WCC team.

Well, the Bulldogs won by 16. However, the team also shot 50% from 3, sinking 10 of their 20 3-point attempts.

Against Saint Mary’s, it’s going to be hard to do that.

Both because Saint Mary’s avoids 3-point attempts and has the best chance to stifle Gonzaga’s up-tempo ball movement.

I also think Tass will have a good chance to neutralize Timme, even if Holmgren is allowed to run wild.

Look for Saint Mary’s to slow this game to a snail’s pace on its home court and give Gonzaga the toughest challenge of the year. Saint Mary’s is playing its best basketball of the season, and Gonzaga isn’t going to stroll into conference tournament week winning every WCC game by double-digits.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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