The majority of the league plays on Saturday, February 12th. Selection Sunday is in a month on March 13th, with the first game tipping off on March 15th. In the midst of all this conference rivalry, teams are also looking forward and trying to maintain or grow their current rankings in the NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings. Two of the biggest games on Saturday involve Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga, and Texas at Baylor. With March Madness so close, find the best bookmakers now to learn their sites before the big tournament.
The 20-5 Saint Mary’s Gaels are traveling to Spokane, Washington to play the 20-2 Gonzaga Bulldogs. This will be the first time these two teams play this year. However, they will play again at the end of February. Saint Mary’s is currently ranked at #22 in the AP Top 25 Poll, but more importantly rank number #21 in the NET rankings.
Saint Mary’s has only lost to teams in the top quad of the league (#20 Wisconsin, #36 Colorado State, #53 San Diego State, #50 BYU, & #67 Santa Clara). The Gaels have impressive wins this year against top teams as well. They beat #63 Notre Dame, #48 Oregon, #64 Missouri State, #45 Utah State, #67 Santa Clara, & #38 University of San Francisco. Saint Mary’s is good at defense, holding teams to only 59.1 points per game while forcing 6.9 steals per game.
However, Gonzaga is ranked number one in the NET rankings for a reason. They are 9-0 in the WCC, which is ranked 9th (of 32), and won handily over #13 Texas Tech, #14 UCLA, & #15 Texas. Their only losses this year are to #11 Duke 84-81, and #24 Alabama. Gonzaga averages 90.8 points per game (which is 2nd in 358), 42.7 rebounds per game (9th/358), and 19.2 assists per game (4th/358).
The Zags are lead by Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren. Timme is shooting 60.2% from the field and averages 17.2 points per game. Holmgren has seven double doubles this year, and has been on fire the last few games. He has scored 20 or more points in four of his last six games, all while averaging over three blocks a game during that span. The spread is pretty spot on, but I’d expect it to go the Zags way while they play at home.
Last year only two teams made it into the tournament from the WCC (Gonzaga and BYU). However this year, three to five teams will make it in. Gonzaga looks like an easy number one seed, barring a major upset. Saint Mary’s is currently slated for a five or six seed, while University of San Francisco looks like a lock for a nine or ten seed. That leaves BYU, who find themselves on the right side of the bubble (barely), and Santa Clara who are on the wrong side of the bubble at the moment.
#15 Texas is coming off two big wins against #39 Iowa State and #7 Kansas. Unfortunately, the Longhorns are two and five on the road this year. Those only two wins were to the Big 12 scrubs Kansas State and TCU (still not that bad as Big 12 has the top ranked conference and all of the teams have a chance to make the tournament). Inversely, Baylor is eleven and two at home this year after beating Kansas State earlier this week.
It is not hard to see the Bears winning at home by seven or more points Baylor averages 9.1 more points per game compared to Texas, while also out rebounding, stealing, and assisting the Longhorns. Furthermore, Baylor’s top shooter LJ Cryer averages more points per game at home, and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua gets 1.8 more rebounds per game more at home as well as shooting slightly better. Take the Bears with a good home record, against the Longhorns who haven’t figured out how to win on the road.
Saturday is for NCAA Basketball, and Sunday is for NFL. Especially this Sunday, Super Bowl LVI will have the Los Angeles Rams host the Cincinnati Bengals. Get the complete betting guide, and win big with the Big Game.
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