It’s officially conference championship week in college basketball and there are two teams in action ranked in the Top 25 on Monday night in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament from Las Vegas in Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga. Both will be in the NCAA Tournament regardless.
Meanwhile, below is the analysis, college basketball lines, and free picks for two important games involving ranked teams.
AP Top 25 College Basketball Analysis and Betting Opportunities for March 6
BYU vs. No. 17 Saint Mary’s (-6.5)
BYU vs. Saint Mary’s Game Info | Updated NCAAB Odds
When: Monday, March 6, 2023 at 9:00 pm ET
Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
TV / Streaming: ESPN2
Tips at 9 PM ET on ESPN. This could be the final game as a member of the WCC for BYU as it heads to the Big 12 next season. The Cougars (19-14) won their third straight game Saturday, 73-63 over Loyola Marymount to advance to the semifinals.
Rudi Williams led the Cougars in scoring for the eighth time this season as the senior finished with 23 points en route to eclipsing 2,000 points for his collegiate career. Spencer Johnson had 14 and Jaxson Robinson contributed 13 to go along with a career-high eight rebounds. Atiki Ally Atiki played a season-high 24 points off the bench finishing with two points, six rebounds and three blocks. With his four 3-point attempts, Robinson moved into a tie with Matt Carlino (2013-14) for the 14th most 3-point attempts in a single season in program history (177).
As a team the BYU Cougars shot 52.4 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from 3-point range. They were also solid from the free throw line, going 21-of-26. BYU improved to 8-1 on the season when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
Saint Mary’s (25-6) tied for the regular-season title with Gonzaga. The Gaels haven’t played since losing at the Zags 77-68 on Feb. 25 in the regular-season finale. SMC’s Logan Johnson was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Randy Bennett was named the WCC’s Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his historic career.
Johnson helped lead the Gaels to the fourth-best scoring defense in the NCAA. Johnson has 48 steals on the year, which ranks sixth in the conference, but his 144 as a Gael are the fifth most in program history. He also has set a career-best in rebounding average at 4.9 per game. He was also named first-team All-WCC, leading the Gaels in points per game (14.7), assists (114), and free throws (90). His numbers are on another level in WCC games, where Johnson averaged 17.7 points per game and shot 49.5% from the floor.
Aidan Mahaney was named First Team All-WCC as well, joining Patty Mills as the only other Gael to be named to the All-WCC team as a freshman. He is the leading scorer for a freshman in the conference (14.6 points per game), a rank that is Top 15 in the NCAA.
The Gaels have enjoyed a lot of success in Las Vegas since the tournament moved to the desert in 2009. SMC is 22-10 when playing in the WCC Tournament inside Orleans Arena, including three WCC Championships (2010, 2012, 2019). As the top seed, Saint Mary’s is 6-3 all-time in the tournament.
Saint Mary’s was 2-0 vs. BYU this season.
San Francisco vs. No. 10 Gonzaga (-12.5)
San Francisco vs. Gonzaga Game Info | Updated NCAAB Odds
When: Monday, March 6, 2023 at 11:30 pm ET
Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
TV / Streaming: ESPN2
Tips at 11:30 PM ET on ESPN. The San Francisco Dons (20-13) advanced with a 93-87 double OT win over Santa Clara late Saturday night. Doubling up the Broncos in the second overtime, Josh Kunen buried the go-ahead triple in the corner to put USF on top for good, 89-87, with 1:40 left.
Dons star Khalil Shabazz finished with a career-high 38 points to go along with seven rebounds, five assists, four steals in 48 minutes played. Overall, the do-it-all guard shot 10-of-19 from the floor, 7-of-12 from beyond-the-arc and 11-of-13 from the free throw line. Tyrell Roberts (16 points) and Marcus Williams (13 points) also finished in double figures for USF.
Feeling it from distance, the Dons knocked down 51.9 percent (14-27) of their shots from deep on Saturday night while limiting the Broncos to 34.5 percent (10-29) from three-point land. As a team, USF led Santa Clara in second chance points (17-5) and bench points (18-12).
Gonzaga (26-5) tied for the regular-season title with Saint Mary’s when it beat the Gaels 77-68 on Feb. 25. Gonzaga has played since then, trouncing Chicago State 104-65 on March 1 basically as a scrimmage warm-up to this tournament.
Drew Timme was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season, sharing this year’s honor with Santa Clara’s Brandin Podziemski. The Zags’ Malachi Smith was voted as the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. Timme was joined by Julian Strawther on the conference’s first team.
Timme tops the West Coast Conference averaging 21.1 points per game, and second in shooting 61.8 percent from the field. The senior is fifth in the WCC grabbing 7.4 rebounds per game, and seventh blocking 0.9 shots per game. Timme is third in the nation with 259 made field goals and is sixth with 654 points. He is 22 points from becoming Gonzaga’s all-time leading scorer and currently has 2,175 points during his four seasons at GU.
Gonzaga is 63-16 all-time in the West Coast Conference Tournament with 20 titles and 28 finals appearances, including each of the last 25 seasons. The Bulldogs are 49-5 under Mark Few in the WCC Tournament with title-game appearances in all 23 seasons. The Zags are 30-3 in the WCC Tournament since 2009, when the event moved to Las Vegas. GU has won in the WCC tournament semifinals in each of the past 25 years.
The Zags have won 26 straight versus the Dons overall. USF’s last win in the series came on Feb 18, 2012, 66-65, at San Francisco.
Expert Picks: Saint Mary’s and San Francisco ATS (but Gonzaga advances)
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