The No. 1 team in the nation travels to Utah for a meeting with the BYU Cougars. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are back on the floor after a 76-58 win over the Pacific Tigers on Thursday. While Gonzaga deserves to be the best team in the country, they’ve been slow starters in several games this season. This was the case against the inferior Tigers in that one.
It took a little longer than it typically takes for Gonzaga to heat up. People had Gonzaga on upset alert, as they were down a point by a score of 32-31 at halftime. However, if you’ve watched Gonzaga play this season, you probably knew that they were going to take the lead and pull away.
From what I’ve seen of Gonzaga this season, they are generally slow for ten minutes and then catch fire. Against Pacific, it took them well over ten minutes to find their stride. They needed a full half and some change to find traction. When it was all said and done, Gonzaga turned a deficit into a 76-58 win, which is insanely impressive.
Having said that, Gonzaga is going to run into the wrong team one of these days and not get out of a hole. Let’s say Gonzaga starts slow against Baylor in the NCAA Tournament. While it’s not to say the Bulldogs can’t storm back, their backs will be up against a big wall against a team like Baylor. In other words, it is best to learn how to start quickly out of the gate before they enter the NCAA Tournament.
Gonzaga doesn’t have any serious challenger left on their schedule. This outing against BYU on the road might be their trickiest. After this matchup, Gonzaga only has Santa Clara, San Francisco, Saint Mary’s, and San Diego on the schedule. The Bulldogs will have to stay the course, but the No. 1 seed is within reach over Baylor.
The Cougars are coming off a blowout over Portland, 105-60. This was after BYU got into a dog fight against Pacific, where they needed overtime to escape with a 95-87 win in overtime. I don’t think BYU expected that kind of push back from Pacific, but the Tigers held in there on the road in Utah. BYU goes into Monday with wins in six of their previous seven performances. Head below for our free Gonzaga vs. BYU pick for February 8, 2021.
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. BYU Cougars NCAA Betting Odds:
Gonzaga vs. BYU Prediction:
BYU better be ready for the onslaught that is going to come from the Gonzaga offense. The question is how long it’s going to take for Gonzaga to lay on the gas pedal. They’ve been slow starters constantly in the past, but still find a way to score around or even more than 100 points in some spots. After losing at the half against Pacific, perhaps that’s where the Bulldogs finally realized that they can’t allow this to continue to be a habit.
Is there an angle to take advantage and find value on Gonzaga’s slow starts? Yes, you can get better value on their point spreads with in-game wagering if you’ve waited this season on Gonzaga games to start. Like I said, though, could the Pacific game be their wake up call? It’s possible, and a decent team like BYU might catch their interest right away. Despite all of this talk about starting slow in the first-half, this is a Gonzaga team that leads the NCAA in scoring with 93.3 points per game. They’re also first in the country with a field goal percentage of 55.1%.
The Cougars have been serviceable defensively, with 67.7 points conceded per game. However, there isn’t a defense that the Bulldogs have struggled against. It doesn’t really matter who they’ve taken on, their offense has mauled the opposition. Even against Kansas and Virginia on the road, the Bulldogs were able to score 102 and 98 points. On the road this season, Gonzaga hasn’t noticed much of a drop off in offensive production. They’ve netted 90.4 points per game on the road.
If there is only one pitfall with Gonzaga it is that they can get sloppy defensively at times. All of their aggressive offensive attacking can leave them vulnerable on the other side occasionally. Gonzaga is 164th in the NCAA with 69.7 points conceded per game. Given their hot stroke offensively, Gonzaga can live with that, but it might come back to hurt them.
BYU has been lighting net at home this season, with an average of 85.7 points per game on 51.4% shooting. The OVER has gone 6-1 in their previous seven games at home for good reason. Overall, they’ve been strong with 79.2 points a game for 44th in the country. The OVER in Salt Lake City on Monday night looks worthwhile with Gonzaga visiting.