2020 Saint Mary's Gaels NCAA Basketball National Championship Odds with Predictions
Saint Mary's has found their niche as an outpost for Australian basketball players in the NCAA - they have four on the roster this year, along with two New Zealanders for good measure, and they lost three more after last season. And it is a formula that works for them. They have been the second-best team in the West Coast Conference behind Gonzaga for so long now that we have forgotten that anything else is possible. And sometimes they can have a breakthrough. Just last year, for example, they finished second in the regular season, but then stunned Gonzaga in the conference tournament final to grab the automatic bid and climb off a bubble they probably weren't going to burst. They went on to lose to Villanova in the first round of the tournament. This is a team that follows a non-traditional path to success, and they appear to be lined up to do it yet again this year. The roster looks like no other, and it should be pretty solid. Good enough, at least for second in the WCC and a chance to scare the very solid Bulldogs.
Saint Mary's Gaels Additions/Losses
This is a very experienced team. They lost only three players from last year and just one that had any real impact. Kyle Clark and Alex Mudronja both returned to Australia after finding it hard to find their place on the team. The only significant loss is Australian Jordan Hunter, who started every game at center last year after three years playing far fewer minutes. He was useful enough, but he wasn't such a presence that the team will be lost without him. Matthias Tass, an Estonian who played 15 minutes a game last year as a freshman, is most likely to step up and eat Hunter's minutes, and it is quite likely that the graduated senior won't be missed at all. Senior Aaron Menzies, a true center who transferred from Seattle but then was forced into a medical redshirt last year with a hand injury, will fill a role up front as well. We could see a lineup where a 7'3" Menzies pushes the 6'10" Tass to power forward, creating a twin tower setup that will be tough for less WCC teams to cope with. Australian recruits Kyle Bowen and Alex Ducas - a forward and a wing, respectively - will work their way into the rotation at some point, too, but it could take some time.
The backcourt is driven by the electric Jordan Ford, who scored at least 20 points in 20 games last year and had 26 points in the Gaels' season-opening overtime win over Wisconsin this year while playing all 45 minutes. He's a force. He can run the point, but the team was much better last year once he moved over and junior Tommy Kuhse took over running the show. Kuhse is back, and he is joined by Logan Johnson, a transfer from Cincinnati who was expected to have to take a year off but he got a waiver and is eligible now. He played 36 minutes against Wisconsin at the point with Kuhse out of the lineup. Kristers Zoriks from Latvia was seen as a potential starting point guard last year as a freshman, but an ACL injury derailed that, and he redshirted. He'll probably take some time to find his confidence again, but coach Randy Bennett is really high on him. And wing Tanner Krebs is going to play a ton of minutes out of the backcourt as well. We will very likely see a lot of three-guard looks for this team, and even four at times, given how the roster breaks down.
Saint Mary's Gaels Schedule
The Gaels got off to a solid start, beating Wisconsin in, oddly, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That should be their last challenging game until they host Utah State on November 29. Their last four nonconference games are an interesting stretch. They play Dayton in Phoenix, then they are at Cal before going back to Phoenix to play Arizona State, and then to San Francisco to play Nevada. Then conference play starts, which is a whole bunch of very winnable games and the two against Gonzaga that always matter most.
Saint Mary's Gaels Futures Odds and Trends
To the surprise of absolutely no one since it has been this way for seemingly decades now, the Gaels are the second choice to win the conference behind Gonzaga. They are at +130, with the Bulldogs at -125. They are a massive long shot to win the national title, obviously, at +25000.
Saint Mary's went 22-12 last year and was a slightly profitable 19-15 ATS. They went under the total 20 times and over 13, so there were nice profits on the totals front as well.
Saint Mary's Gaels Predictions
This backcourt is really interesting and potentially really good. It's tough to be too dramatic or revolutionary when it comes to predictions about this team, though, They are clearly the second-best team in the conference, and will be a tough out for Gonzaga the two times they meet - plus their seemingly inevitable class in the finals of the conference tournament. And they will be right in the mix to grab a tournament berth as they have seven times in the last 15 years.
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