No. 15 Virginia (4-1) vs. No.1 Gonzaga (6-0)
The Bulldogs have scored a 2-1 win in the series with all three wins coming under Coach Mark Few. The Cavaliers took a 108-87 win over the Bulldogs in their last meeting in 2007 in Charlottesville.
Vs. the Spread:
The Bulldogs check in at 3-3 ATS while the Cavaliers are 3-2 vs. the line. The total has gone OVER in 17 of Gonzaga’s last 20 games and it has also gone OVER in 17 of Gonzaga’s last 20 when the team is playing as the favorite. The Bulldogs are only 2-7 ATS in their last nine vs. the ACC. The total has gone UNDER in seven of UVa’s last nine games, but the OVER has been the play in four of Virginia’s last five vs. the WCC. Virginia is 4-0-1 ATS in it’s last five when playing as the underdog.
|Virginia||+7 (-105)||O 139½ (-110)|
|Gonzaga||-7 (-115)||U 139½ (-110)|
The Cavaliers were out 18 days between games as they lost postponements against Michigan State and Wake Forest and a cancellation at Villanova. They beat Kent State, 71-64 in overtime on Dec. 4, before coming back on Dec. 22 with a 76-40 win over William & Mary.
Gonzaga lost five games due to covid including a matchup with No. 2 Baylor on Dec. 5. The Bulldogs had a 17-day pause between games after an 87-82 win over West Virginia on Dec. 2. They picked up where they left off on Dec. 19 as they outgunned Iowa, 99-88.
Last Time Out:
Both of these teams did a really good job of scheduling wins for games after disruptions of their schedules due to COVID-19 protocol. That’s the idea when you are high major programs.
Gonzaga inked a back-to-back with Northwestern State and won 95-57 on Monday before a 95-78 decision on Tuesday evening. Drew Timme led Gonzaga with 25 points in that latest matchup while Jalen Suggs added 19 and Corey Kispert scored 18. The Zags led 24-2 on Tuesday night after the first nine minutes.
Trey Murphy, III, led the Wahoos with 15 points as they shot 51 percent from the floor and 46 percent from triple land in the 76-40 dismissal of William & Mary. Coach Tony Bennett was pleased with the focus and alertness of the Cavaliers after such a lay off
Swing the Sabre:
Ironically, the Cavaliers’ only loss is a 61-60 decision to WCC competitor San Francisco back on Nov. 27. Bennett has made Virginia an elite program with the national championship and with his signature Pack Line defense. However, this team has plenty of potential firepower similar the national championship team of two years ago.
They continue to use their usual low time of possession as it equates to 19.2 seconds; however, they find their 3-point shooters and they shoot 36.4 percent from the arc. Rice transfer Trey Murphy, III, has made 11-of-21 triples while Marquette transfer and leading scorer Sam Hauser (13.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg) makes 10-of-23 as he shoots 56.3 percent from the floor and leads the Cavaliers in scoring.
Virginia will not want to get into a track meet with the Zags, but can score when the opportunity presents. The presence of Jay Huff on the interior will be huge against a more physical Drew Timme. The 3-point game on both sides of the ball will be a key as both teams are capable of turning this into a 3-ball shooting festival.
Inside the Kennel:
This is one of the best offensive teams in recent memory as the Bulldogs match the second most efficient offense in the nation against Virginia’s fourth most efficient defense. Gonzaga is third in the nation in scoring offense (94.7), fourth in field goal percentage (55.1), and eighth in assists (20.8).
Getting the transition game going behind the speed of Jalen Suggs will be a major objective for the Zags since the Cavaliers like the tempo and hold opponents to only 54 points per outing.
The shooting prowess of Drew Timme and Corey Kispert will give Virginia problems because of their dynamics and versatility. Both shoot over 60 percent from the field as Kispert goes inside out in making 17-of-37 triples and Timme is good at reading his screens and finding position on the boxes. Suggs also shoots 56.9 percent. Guard Joel Ayayi is a matchup problem for the Cavaliers with athleticism from the small forward where he is tied with Timme in rebounds at 7.5 per game.
Winner: Gonzaga 82 Virginia (+7) 76
O/U: OVER 139.5