The Pepperdine Waves and Gonzaga Bulldogs link up at the McCarthey Athletic Center on the campus of Gonzaga University in Spokane on Thursday night. Gonzaga are monster favorites to win the West Coast Conference for good reason. Going into Thursday as a 25.5 point favorite against an average Pepperdine team pretty much says it all.
There aren’t many teams in the country that would be a 25.5 point favorite against an average opponent. Average by the West Coast Conference standards, I should note. Pepperdine wouldn’t get very far in some of the more competitive conferences in college basketball. Gonzaga, however, would be a force in any conference they went to.
Amid rumors over the years that Gonzaga are going to the Pac-12, they would clear the Pac-12 with ease most years. There has been zero substance to Gonzaga going to the Pac-12, just internet fodder amongst fans speculating. The Pac-12 would want Gonzaga to come with a football team, which they don’t have.
There is a Gonzaga College High School that plays football, but the university in Spokane does not. The Bulldogs make up for no football with their terrific basketball team. However, Gonzaga has never won a national championship, though they reached the final game in 2017, ultimately losing to North Carolina, 71-65. That was actually their first Final Four appearance as well.
While Gonzaga has been a high seed in numerous NCAA Tournaments, they’ve choked early several times. This Bulldogs team just looks like it’s built differently. They’ve been blowing everyone out and playing like the best team in the country. Michigan and Baylor might have something to say about that, but Gonzaga passes the eye test easily.
Gonzaga goes into Thursday with a perfect record of 12-0, and they’ve beaten some good teams along the way. The Zags have wins over Kansas, 102-90, Iowa, 99-88, and Virginia, 98-75. While their conference schedule is not difficult by any means, Gonzaga has already proven that they can beat top-flight competition, so their 12-0 record isn’t a mistake. The Bulldogs are coming off a 116-88 win over Portland on Saturday in another cakewalk. Head below for our free Pepperdine vs. Gonzaga pick on January 14, 2021.
Pepperdine Waves vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs NCAA Betting Odds:
Pepperdine vs. Gonzaga Prediction:
Pepperdine is going to have to score, and have to score a lot to keep up with Gonzaga on Thursday night. The Bulldogs can score 100 points on most teams in the country if they want. Kansas found out the hard way in their 102-90 loss against Gonzaga to open the season. The Bulldogs lead the NCAA with an average of 96.1 points scored per game.
Gonzaga has scored at least 85 points in every outing this season. The depth on this roster is some of the best you’re going to find in the country. If one of their leading scorers isn’t on that night, there’s a good chance somebody else is going to step up and make up for it with a big outing.
Along with leading the NCAA in points per game, the Bulldogs are shooting the heck out of the ball at a clip of 55.6% to lead the nation in field goal percentage. Is Pepperdine going to be able to step in front of Gonzaga on defense? No. Their best hope is going to be getting hot offensively.
Pepperdine has conceded 73.6 points a game for 249th in the NCAA. And they haven’t played an offense remotely close to what the Bulldogs are going to bring tonight. UCLA is the closest, and the Bruins scored 107 points in that game. In their last two outings, Pepperdine allowed 75 points in a 75-63 loss against UCSB, and then followed up with a 79-51 loss against CSU Bakersfield. Those were both terrible performances from the Waves in two games where they were the favorites.
On the road in 2020-21, Pepperdine has scored just 60 points per game. The Waves are not keeping up if they play like that in Spokane on Thursday night. If they play like they did against UCSB and CSU Bakersfield, this game is going to be a 40-point blowout. I believe a better effort will be present, but likely not enough to cover 25.5 points. Lay the wood with Gonzaga to pull away to cover at home.