Man, it has been a tough week, full of heartbreaking last-second finishes. The college basketball season is a long one, and you are going to go through stretches like this from time to time, and last night was a perfect example of a good bet gone wrong. We backed the Maryland Terrapins getting six points on the road against the Badgers of Wisconsin. The Terrapins are a young, inexperienced squad, but they have played well on the road this year, and I liked them to keep this game close enough to cover.
The game went very much as I thought it would for most of the evening. The Terrapins dominated the first half, leading by as many as eight points, and they hit half time with a 36-31 lead. And even in the second half, this game was a very competitive one. With five minutes to play in the second half, the Terrapins had a 55-54 lead, and our bet looked to be in great shape. But then disaster struck as Maryland fell apart down the stretch after leading the entire game.
The Badgers closed out the game on a 15-6 run, to not only steal the win, but also cover the spread, and spoil our bet. It was a frustrating way to lose as we were looking golden for the first thirty-five minutes of the game. What can you do, bad beats happen when you bet as much basketball as I do. Today, we are looking to shake off the run bad as we breakdown the game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the San Diego Toreros.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs host the San Diego Toreros tonight in a WCC league game from the Kennel in Spokane Washington. The Zags have one of, if not the best team they have ever had, and are ranked number four in the nation. Gonzaga had what was supposed to be the biggest test left on their schedule in their last game as they traveled to Provo to play the BYU Cougars. But that game quickly got out of hand, and the Zags pounded BYU by thirty points on the road.
For the Toreros, they are one of the surprise teams in a much better than most people think WCC. San Diego has a solid record at 15-7 and could play themselves onto the NCAA tournament bubble with a big win tonight over highly ranked Gonzaga. The Zags are -22.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 150.5-points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST from the McCarthy Athletic Center in Spokane.
We have been riding this Gonzaga team all season long. And it has been working out very well for us, as this team is on an absolute tear. The Zags have won eleven straight games, by an average margin of victory of over thirty points. The one game where they were tested, on the road against a very good San Francisco Dons team, they trailed for much of the game before finishing on a flurry and still managed to win and cover a double-digit spread. The Zags are an elite 16-6 against the number this year, something that is very hard to do for a team that is consistently heavily favored in most games.
That is the case again tonight as Gonzaga is tasked with covering yet another jumbo-sized number, but who am I to doubt them at this point? Since Killian Tillie and Geno Crandle rejoined the team after missing significant time with injury early in the season, this team just can’t stop blowing teams out. We all know about this mighty offense, they are ranked number one on kenpom for offensive efficiency, and the second place Purdue Boilermakers are a distant second place. But it is the defense that has really stepped up for Gonzaga in WCC play.
The Zags have held their opponents to sixty points or fewer in seven of their last ten games as they have really turned up the defensive intensity. One major reason why this defense can be so good is the play of Brandon Clarke. I have said multiple times this season that Clarke might be the most underrated player in America. Clarke gets outshined by All-American candidate Rui Hachimura, but make no mistake, Clarke is an absolute beast.
Clarke is averaging seventeen points and eight boards a game. But it is his presence in the paint that is moving the needle for this Gonzaga team. Clarke led the nation in blocked shots in his time at San Jose State, and he is threatening to do that again this year as he is averaging three a game. He should break the all-time single-season blocks record at Gonzaga any time now and he gives the Zags an intimidating big man down low.
I don’t want to hate on what the Toreros are doing this season. They are a solid mid-major team, and they are playing well. But they are nowhere near the level of this Gonzaga team right now. Kenpom has San Diego at number eighty-nine. That is more than respectable for a team that has made the NCAA tournament just twice this century and hasn’t danced for more than a decade. But they just don’t have the quality wins to be considered a legit threat for an at-large bid at this point.
San Diego’s biggest win this year came on the road against a San Diego State team that is decent but won’t be getting into the tournament either. The Toreros are coming off of two huge WCC wins over San Francisco and Loyola-Marymount, and there is also a risk of a letdown game. You would think that the Toreros won’t have much trouble getting up for a game in Spokane against a top-five team, but at some point, this team has to run out of gas.
The Zags are the far superior team in this game. They are uber deep and can drop triple figures on any team in the country. With their newfound resurgence on defense, they have just been too much for these WCC teams to handle. Every time I think, oh this game is going to be a close one, the Zags blow it out. So, I am done doubting Gonzaga until they give me a reason to. I think they win this game and win it easily.
Laying twenty-two points is a huge number that I normally wouldn’t even consider. But this team is just on a completely other level right now, and it is going to show tonight. Give me the Gonzaga Bulldogs laying -22.5-points tonight from the Kennel!