Saint Mary's vs #1 Gonzaga Road to March Madness

Saint Mary’s vs #1 Gonzaga Road to March Madness | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on February 17, 2021

Gonzaga’s biggest rival in the West Coast Conference is Saint Mary’s, and while the No. 1 Zags have dominated that rivalry for the most part, the Gaels have pulled a few big upsets. Gonzaga looks to take another step toward an unbeaten regular season when it hosts Saint Mary’s on Thursday and the Zags will be double-digit favorites on the NCAAB odds. They remain favorites to win the national title.

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Last Meeting

On Jan. 16, Gonzaga won 73-59 at Saint Mary’s. The SMC defense held the Zags to their lowest scoring total of the season and just 32 points in the first half. The Gaels were up 22-12 after a Fotu triple which put the Zags in the largest hole they’ve faced this season. However, an ensuing 16-2 run by GU would put them back up late in the period and up seven at half. The Gaels made just one of their last 16 shots to close the half. Saint Mary’s pulled to 56-48 on Dan Fotu’s layup with 9:01 to play before another decisive Gonzaga burst, this time 8-0. The Zags shot 53.8%.

Why Bet on Saint Mary’s? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Gaels (11-6) probably will not be an NCAA Tournament team. They returned from a long COVID break Saturday and lost 60-58 at Pepperdine. It was the Gaels’ first game back since Jan. 23.

After trailing by as many as 14 with less than eight minutes to play, the Gaels slowly chipped away at the Waves’ lead and would eventually tie the score up in the final seconds. Colbey Ross sank two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to break a tie. Ross collected 10 points and 10 assists for his second double-double of the season and the 14th of his career.

 Tommy Kuhse had the ball on the final play for the Gaels and heaved up a 30-footer for the win but the shot bounced off the top of the backboard as the buzzer sounded.

Matthias Tass led Saint Mary’s with 17 points, just one shy of his season-high, and also had a team-best seven rebounds. Johnson scored 12 on 4-of-7 shooting and Kuhse added 11 more with five assists. Alex Ducas played 20 minutes in his first game back from injury (Dec. 19).

The Waves had their best defensive showing of the season against a Division I team, both in terms of points allowed and field goal percentage (tied) as the Gaels shot 37.5%. The Waves, one of the nation’s top three-point defensive teams, held SMC to 4-for-24 (16.7%) from beyond the arc.

Saint Mary’s has finished t-2nd or higher in the WCC in 12 of the last 13 seasons but that’s not going to happen this year.

Why Bet on Gonzaga? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Zags (20-0) were supposed to be tested Saturday at San Francisco but weren’t in a 100-61 victory. It was the Zags’ 24th straight win dating to last season and they have now reached at least 20 wins for the 24th consecutive season.

Earlier Saturday, the Bulldogs were the No. 1 overall seed in rankings released by the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. Selection Sunday is a month away. They played like the top seed against the Dons. Jacob Timme, who made 11 of his 12 shots in the game, scored 15 of Gonzaga’s first 17 points as the Bulldogs jumped to a 17-3 lead. San Francisco missed its first 10 shots from the field and it wasn’t until Anthony Roy scored with 11:38 left in the first that the Dons got their first field goal. At that point they trailed 20-6.

Timme finished with 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Aaron Cook, Joel Ayayi and Corey Kispert each scored 12 points for Gonzaga.

In the first 400 minutes of conference play this season, covering 10 games, the Zags have only trailed for 45 minutes and 58 seconds. Gonzaga and No. 2 Baylor are the only two unbeaten teams in the nation. Gonzaga remains first in the nation in scoring offense (92.7 ppg) and field goal percentage (54.8%).

On Monday, Timme was named WCC Player of the Week and Jalen Suggs the WCC Freshman of the Week. Over the last six contests, Timme has averaged 21.8 points per game, shooting 72.5 percent from the field, and grabbing eight rebounds per outing. Timme now paces the West Coast Conference with 19.35 points per game, at a league-leading 64 percent shooting from the field. He is fourth in the conference with four double-doubles, and fourth averaging 7.25 rebounds per game. Gonzaga has accumulated nine of the 12 player of the week awards in 2020-21.

Suggs tops the West Coast Conference in steals per game (2.17), is fifth in assists (4.39), and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.65). He has been named WCC Freshman of the Week nine times this season.

The Zags have won 19 of the last 23 in the series vs. Saint Mary’s and are 48-11 vs. the Gaels under 22nd-year Coach Mark Few.

Expert College Basketball Prediction

Gonzaga 81, Saint Mary’s 65


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