Both of these games will be played at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas Monday night.
#517 St. Mary's at #518 Gonzaga -6, at 6pm PST
#519 San Francisco at #520 Brigham Young -4.5, at 8:30 PST
I was a bit on the fence with both of these games until I started to get into styles and match ups.
Gonzaga certainly has been the dominant powerhouse of years past, but even though they've struggled at times this year we can't discount the culture and tradition of the Zags. I read early in the season that Coach Few has the highest win percentage of any active coach. Hard to believe with all the great coaches out there, but it's a testament to his skill as a teacher, his commitment and loyalty to Gonzaga. The Zags have been questionable or at least of concern when on the road. All four of their conference loses came there, but St. Mary's was not one of them. In fact, they beat the Gaels 73-51 in Oakland, and then dusted them 75-47 at home on the last day of conference play. St. Mary's desperately needed a leader after Delavedova graduated last year and although they too have pedigree and attract quality players, they just don't have the balance or the "It" factor this year, and it's unlikely they'll find it in Las Vegas. Fact of the matter is most folks leave Las Vegas with a lot less of "It" than they came with and I think this is the end of the line for the Gaels. The line opened at Gonzaga -5, but it still isn't available everywhere, but I'm going to lay the (now 6) points and go with the better, deeper team.
#519 San Francisco at #520 Brigham Young -4.5, at 8:30 PST
This will likely be the marque game of the night. BYU is not only an athletic uptempo team, but the Cougars have a huge following that migrate down from the cold confines of Provo. It's also probably a welcome opportunity to get liquored up without the elders patrolling the streets. Funny thing is Las Vegas was founded by Mormons, but they found it was just too hard to farm here. The original Mormon trail goes through the valley. For those who don't know it, "Las Vegas" means the Springs and the city has turned the original springs area into a very nice natural preserve. But even though the mormons left, they didn't leave completely and some of their more industrious followers have their hands in more than one casino or resort enterprise. Just goes to show that if you don't drink, gambling can be a profitable enterprise, and as me and millions of others know all too well, liquor doesn't enhance much of anything that relates to winning in the world of chance or against house odds.
So what about the game? I like San Francisco a lot and have been high on them for sometime. Do I think they'll win? No. Do I think it will be a competitive game? I hope it is, but don't really think it will be. This BYU team does not have a senior on the squad and are poised to kick ass for the next two years. And given they rank nationally: 3rd in points per game, 6th in rebounds, 15th in assists, and 42nd in field goal percentage, it's really hard to go against them. Plus, they just don't quit pushing, pushing, pushing and they've shot 935 free throws which is just insane. SF is a good team and I expect them to go deep in the NIT, but this senior laden team just doesn't have the horses to run with the Cougars or the rebounders to create second shots. It will take lots of luck and beaucoup heart for the Dons to keep it close, but I'm going to lay the points here and take BYU -4.5.
BTW, SF is a very good road team, but anyone at the top of any conference has learned to win on the road.
As always, these are just my opinions so do your own work before taking my or anyone's advice and good luck with your bets this week.
Good stuff. On the fence with both of those. Would LIKE to find a way to back the Dons, but just don't know. I think if Gonzaga struggles it might be early in the Tournament, and that line is somewhat telling that it's only -6 or so. Not many solid games to pick on tomorrow (or Tuesday, really) so this is indeed "the good stuff", as usual.
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Good stuff. I'm leaning San Fran.....here are a few "trends"
•Dons are 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games.
• Dons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. win.
• Dons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS win.
• Dons are 39-13 ATS in their last 52 vs. West Coast.
• Dons are 37-15-1 ATS in their last 53 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
• Dons are 48-22-1 ATS in their last 71 games overall.
• Dons are 41-20 ATS in their last 61 games vs. a team with a winning S.U. record.
• Cougars are 19-39 ATS in their last 58 neutral site games
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Great stuff Scotty...My concern for St. Mary's is just being away from home...I'd much rather back Gonzaga in this spot than take a chance with the +6....Same goes for BYU IMO
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Great stuff as always Scotty. Gonzaga only lost 3 conference games however, Portland, BYU and San Diego.
For what it's worth, I would love to see the Dons win this one and the championship too. It would be a true cinderella story, but I just don't think they can stay up with BYU's relentless pace. There's a reason BYU has shot 935 free throws and it's not because they're jacking up threes every time they go down the court. I wrote in an earlier post how much I value how elite teams, this time of year, play as one body. Each player knows instinctively what the other is going to do and where's he's going to be. BYU plays in transition and they also have one of the top shooters in the country in Tyler Haws. If SF has any chance to win this one, they're going to have to hit every three or sprint back on defense which kind of eliminates any opportunity for offensive rebounds. BYU could be flat. You never know. But they know all too well that if they have any chance whatsoever at making the dance, they've got to bring it, and bring it for all forty minutes.
GU plays their home games in Spokane not Oakland.
Not a fan of the Dons after what Rex let happen with Cody Doolin. Yet they played well in conference.
All I have to say is, it still sits clearly how the Zags beatdown st marys on st marys senior night, on espn, in front of homecrowd.. Zags dominated from start to finish, big boy post from st mary look like he was jv playing varsity.. Too slow, too heavy, out of shape, couldnt defend the pick and roll.. And he had no post defense.
No way can I back st marys.. Zags or pass.. IMO
As always, thanks for your insight. This time of year (more than ever) the old adage "the cream always rises to the top" is carved in stone. I'm laying the 6 with Gonzaga and the 5 with BYU. The "Cinderella" story of the Don's would be short lived at best so I'm going with the chalk in both these games. There will be at least a 2 team par on the sides to go with it and possibly more if the book's aren't too stingy with the numbers in the am...
Saint Marys California VS Gonzaga
Gonzaga -6 -110
and my BYU wager isn't posting but it's made @ -5
The madness is finally here !
Good Luck Handicappers !