Santa Clara at Gonzaga Picks and NCAA Basketball Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 2/20/2013
If this was an alumni game it would be a heck of a point guard battle, with John Stockton and Steve Nash trading punches all night. Alas, that’s not going to happen. This is still, though, a wildly compelling game. Gonzaga has been good for impossibly long, but they are in rare heights right now. They are ranked third in the country — their highest ranking in nine years — and have the best win percentage in the country. At 25-2 they also have the chance to sky their school record for most regular season wins with a victory here, and they still have four games left. They had some questions heading into this season, but as the season has progressed and so many teams have proven to be vulnerable there is little doubt that these Bulldogs could bark their way all the way to the Final Four.
Santa Clara would love nothing more than to rain on the Gonzaga parade. At 19-8 they are a reasonably capable team. They don’t really have a signature win, but they did cover the spread at Duke at the end of 2012, so they are not scared of top teams and tough surroundings. They have also covered three of the last five against the Bulldogs, and they beat Gonzaga in January of 2011 as eight-point underdogs, so they certainly won’t be intimidated here. The question is, though, are they good enough to keep this one close enough to cover?
Santa Clara at Gonzaga Betting storylines
For Gonzaga the story centers around seven-footer Kelly Olynyk. If you haven’t seen this guy play, you are absolutely missing out. He’s unquestionably a future pro — and quite likely a pretty good one. He’s a serious National Player of the Year contender, and he is just killing it recently — 21 points per game in his last three. He’s shooting 64.9 percent on the season, which is third best in the whole country, and he is just running over opponents. Teams can’t focus exclusively on him, though, because Elias Harris, another guy who has a good chance of playing for cash one day, is red-hot right now as well. Against a very good San Francisco team last time out Harris had 17 points and 13 boards. It’s going to be very tough for Santa Clara to have an answer for that.
As a Canadian, my heart swells with pride for this game. Olnyk is a Canadian. So is stud sophomore point guard Kevin Pangos. Senior forward Marc Trasolini, who is second in scoring and first in rebounding for Santa Clara, is a Canuck as well. We’re taking over the world. Add in freshman like Nik Stauskas of Michigan and Anthony Bennett of UNLV and Andrew Wiggins, the top recruit in next year’s class, and there is little doubt that these are the glory days for Canadian basketball. Not that that’s saying much.
National pride aside, the key here is going to be guard Kevin Foster. Santa Clara’s star is third in the WCC with 18.4 points per game. He exploded for 27 points at Gonzaga in 2011, but he has struggled badly in two other trips to play the Bulldogs. He’s a very hot-and-cold shooter, and he’ll need to be hot in this one if the Bulldogs want to have any chance. The Bulldogs have won 16 straight home conference games, and they have done so by an average of 19 points. They have won their last five home games against Santa Clara by 28.8 on average. This is a better Santa Clara team than they are used to seeing, but the Bulldogs are also playing so well that the Broncos can’t afford a single misstep if they want to have any chance.
Santa Clara at Gonzaga NCAA Basketball Odds and Betting Trends
The Bulldogs have been opened as 14-point favorites in this one with the total set at 143.
Santa Clara doesn’t like Wednesdays — they are just 7-19 ATS in their last 26 on the middle day of the week. They are also just 8-21 ATS in their last 29 conference games. The “under” is 36-13-2 in Gonzaga’s last 51 home games. The home team in 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings between these squads.
Santa Clara at Gonzaga Picks and Betting Predictions
You have to take the Bulldogs. They are red-hot, they know the opportunity they have this year and seem very comfortable with it, and they are ridiculously deep and talented. The Broncos are worthy of respect, but they just don’t have the matchups to endure this massive test. Gonzaga will win and cover.
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