Our hot streak continued last night as we picked up another win when we backed the Indiana Hoosiers against the Maryland Terrapins. I liked the Terrapins to win outright, but the six-point line seemed much too high for a game that I expected to be very competitive. So, I snatched up the points and hoped for a good game.
Indiana had a great opportunity to pick up a big road win in conference as they led by double-digits early in the second half. But the Terrapins fought their way back into the game, and eventually took the lead and held on for the win. Anthony Cowan Jr. led the way for Maryland with twenty-four points, five rebounds, and seven assists. The win was a big one for Maryland as they are now 5-1 in the Big 10 and have won five straight games, all against solid competition.
The Hoosiers are going to be disappointed that they were not able to hold the big lead and steal a road game in conference, but they played well, and there is no reason for them to hang their heads about this loss. Romeo Langford tied his career high with twenty-eight points in the loss, and the young superstar is looking better and better each time out.
Both of these teams will continue to be tested as the Hoosiers play Nebraska and Purdue next and the Terrapins play Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan State. The Big 10 is loaded this year, and there are going to be very few easy wins. For today’s pick, we will head out west and take a look at the game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the San Francisco Dons.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs head out on the road for what just might be their toughest conference test of the season in San Francisco against the Dons. We all know what the Zags are capable of as they knocked off Duke earlier this year and spent time ranked as the nation’s top team. After losing back to back games against North Carolina and Tennessee, the Zags have been steamrolling through some weaker competition, winning six straight games with an average margin of victory close to forty points a game.
For the Dons, they have the best team that they have had in a long time and are hoping to break through with their first NCAA tournament bid this century. San Francisco is 14-2 on the year and would love a big resume-building win like this one tonight. The Zags are big -10-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 150.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM PST from Memorial Gymnasium in San Francisco.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are good enough to win a national title this year. They are near mortal locks to advance to the second weekend in the tournament, and if you pencil them into the Final Four right now, you are going to be right way more than you are going to be wrong. This team is that good. For the first time maybe ever, it is national title or bust in Spokane.
The Zags really showed the country what they could do when they swept the Maui Invitational, including beating Duke in a game where they led for thirty-nine minutes of the action. The Zags also have some strong wins over Creighton, Arizona, Washington, and Texas A&M. And all of those big wins came without what might be their best player, Killian Tillie, off the floor. Tillie missed almost all of the Zags non-conference games with injury but has returned to the team now for league play. They have really eased Tillie back slowly, and I would be surprised if he ends up with big minutes in this one. If Gonzaga wants to win a national title, they will need him to stay healthy, and Mark Few knows that, so expect Tillies minutes to be monitored very closely tonight.
We just don’t know how good this Dons team is right now. Their record is strong, but they don’t have any great wins to hang their hats on. Neither of their losses are bad ones as the two teams to beat San Francisco this year, Buffalo and UCSB, are a combined 26-4. The game against Buffalo was a very close affair, and the Bulls are a sleeper Final Four team themselves so this team can play with good teams, but can they beat them? That is the question.
If Gonzaga is ever going to lose a game in the WCC this year, it is going to be tonight in San Francisco. The Dons have nowhere near the talent that the Zags have, but they shoot the ball well, they don’t turn the ball over, and they play as a team. The Dons are currently ranked 45th on kenpom, one spot higher than a Washington Huskies team that game Gonzaga all they could handle a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be honest, I don’t think the Zags are really in any danger of getting upset tonight.
But to see them laying double-digit points on the road in league play, against what is the second-best team in their conference has me scratching my head. Could this Gonzaga team blow them out? Probably. But will they? That is a whole other question. I think that the Dons will keep it close-ish and this game will hover right around the number all game long before the Dons close strong and sneak in the back-door cover. Give me the San Francisco Dons as big home underdogs, getting ten points tonight!