Gonzaga enters the 2022 NCAA Tournament as the betting favorite to win the school’s first national and the Zags are the No. 1 overall seed and No. 1 seed in the West Region. They could be looking at a regular-season rematch against No. 2 Duke for a trip to the Final Four. The NCAA basketball betting odds to win the West, the Zags are -140 and Duke +400.
West Region Bracket Top Betting Predictions
Back on Nov. 26 in Las Vegas, Duke knocked off Gonzaga 84-81. Blue Devils freshman Paolo Banchero scored 21 points in front of an announced 20,389 fans — the largest basketball crowd ever in Nevada. Gonzaga battled back from a nine-point deficit thanks to Julian Strawther’s offensive prowess early in the second half. He scored eight of the Bulldogs’ first 14 points to help them get within two. But Gonzaga suffered through a 0-for-5 span down the stretch and turned the ball over three times to allow Duke to close the game on a 13-9 run.
Wendell Moore Jr. scored 20 points and Mark Williams added 17 points and 9 rebounds for the Blue Devils. Strawther led Gonzaga with a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds, including shooting 57.1% from the floor in the second half. Drew Timme added 17 points, Chet Holmgren had 16 points and Rasir Bolton chipped in 15 for the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga entered last year’s Big Dance unbeaten and has only three losses this year: To a Duke team with five projected first-round draft picks; the second to an Alabama team that also beat Houston, Tennessee and Baylor; and a third at rival Saint Mary’s in the regular-season finale. All three of those teams are going to the NCAA tournament.
The Zags are led by two Wooden Award candidates. Drew Timme, who averaged 17.5 PPG and 6.3 RPG, was named WCC player of the year. Chet Holmgren (14.2 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 3.6 BPG), a 7-foot-1 freshman who is a projected top-three pick in this summer’s NBA draft, won the league’s defensive player of the year award. He has made 41% of his 3-point attempts this season. The team is top 10 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom. The Zags open against No. 16 Georgia State.
Duke mostly sailed through a mediocre ACC, but it also owns victories over Kentucky and Gonzaga. And 12 of its 16 ACC wins were by double digits. The Blue Devils fit the profile of past national champions, even though they’re 44th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Blue Devils earned their 44th all-time bid to the NCAA Tournament — fifth most in NCAA history — and the 36th under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, breaking a tie with Jim Boeheim for most appearances by a head coach. Duke is 114-38 (.750) all-time in the NCAA Tournament, marking the best winning percentage in tournament history. Duke’s 114 wins are also third-most in the event’s history and Coach K holds the NCAA record with 97 NCAA Tournament wins. Duke opens against Cal State Fullerton.
Texas Tech is the third seed in the West and +550 to win it and then there’s a big drop-off to No. 4 Arkansas (+1200). The Red Raiders (25-9) are making their fourth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and 19th appearance overall. Tech’s run of four appearances in a row is a program record and comes with successful trips to the 2018 Elite 8, 2019 NCAA National Championship Final and the 2021 Second Round.
The Red Raiders are 8-3 over the past three tournaments which is the third most wins nationally with Gonzaga and Michigan tied for the most with 10. Baylor, Houston and Duke each have seven and Virginia has six. After the 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID, the program returned last season to advance to the 2021 NCAA Second Round after a win over Utah State before falling to Arkansas.
Texas Tech opens against Montana State, which earned an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament by winning the Big Sky Championship with an 87-66 win over Northern Colorado on Saturday. It’s MSU’s first NCAA Tournament since 1996. The school’s 27 wins are its third-most ever.
“It’s awesome to be able to play against an unbelievable Texas Tech team,” said MSU head men’s coach Danny Sprinkle. “We know they’re going to guard; we know they’re going to be a tough opponent; we’re just going to have to go in trying to keep playing better. It’s that time of year when players play. That’s why we’ve been playing well, these guys have been making plays.”
West Expert Pick
- Gonzaga over Duke in the final