St. Mary’s vs Gonzaga Pick – March 11th + SoCon Final Bonus Pick

Congratulations to the Indiana Hoosiers who captured their first outright Big Ten title in twenty years yesterday when a last-second buzzer beater attempt for Michigan hung perilously on the rim and rolled harmlessly away.  It was that kind of day in college hoops yesterday, and we weren’t immune to it.  We lost narrowly on Michigan and won narrowly with Creighton.  Both were decided on the final possessions of the game.

Is that a harbinger of things to come this week during conference tournament play??  It seems like all signs are beckoning towards four more weeks of complete insanity – and we’ll be along for the ride at with plenty of picks for all of it.

The big boys take a breather tonight as all six BCS leagues, plus the Mountain West and A-10 gear up for their conference tournaments, but two “non-major” leagues will settle things tonight; the Southern Conference (or SoCon) and the WCC.  Let’s take a look at both of those matchups for tonight’s free picks.

Charleston Cougars vs. Davidson Wildcats -5

These two teams enter with similar overall records, Charleston at 22-9 and Davidson at 23-7, but don’t let the records fool you.  Davidson played a gauntlet of a non-conference schedule, facing the likes of Duke,  Gonzaga, New Mexico, West Virginia, Charlotte and Richmond and going 3-3 in those games. They are an outstanding 19-1 in conference play, ripping through the SoCon conference and enter tonight on a 14-game winning streak.

This isn’t the Steph Curry Wildcats, but it is a well-coached team that no #3 or #4 seed is looking forward to seeing in the first round should the win tonight.

I think they will.  Davidson swept the season series with relative ease, winning by 9 and 16 points respectively.  I know it can be tough to beat a team a third time, but it’s clearly tough for Charleston to beat Davidson at all.  Give me the Wildcats laying the five.

Free Pick:  Davidson Wildcats -5 (line is at -7 now)

St Mary’s Gaels vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs-5

The Gaels might be the most disrespected nationally ranked 27-5 team I can recall.  They are #23 in the current AP poll, yet most most brackets have them firmly on the edge of making the tournament.  Some pundits have said without a win tonight they could find themselves in the NIT.  I agree their schedule hasn’t been very strong, but it you are 27-5 and two of your losses are to the #1 team in the country, it seems you merit a bit more consideration that they are receiving.

That said, they have really struggled with the Zags this season.  GU is playing excellent basketball and hasn’t even been challenged lately.  Aside from a five-point win at BYU, they have had nothing but double digit wins since January, including their 77-60 beatdown at St. Mary’s.

This game means a ton to the Gaels, but don’t forget the importance to Gonzaga as well.  They are attempting to lock up a #1 seed in the tournament for the first time in school history and to end the regular season as the #1 team in the country.  Those are no small accomplishments for a private school in a mid-major conference.

I like GU tonight, even laying the five points.

Free Pick:  Gonzaga Bulldogs -5 (line is at -6 now)

Chris Scheeren / Author