Gonzaga vs. San Francisco Odds
|San Francisco Odds||+17.5|
|Time | TV||Saturday, 6 p.m. ET | ESPN2|
|Odds as of Friday evening and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today.|
The Gonzaga Bulldogs look to continue their historic season Saturday night when they travel to the Bay to face the San Francisco Dons.
Head coach Mark Few is well aware that this team is in the conversation as one of the best college teams of all time, and the statistics back that up. Gonzaga is winning its games by an average margin of 23 points and is showing no signs of letting up in the final stages of the season.
The Dons present an interesting challenge for Gonzaga with the number of 3-pointers they take per game.
Head coach Todd Golden is aware that the game of basketball is evolving before our eyes with the 3-point shot. San Francisco is adapting to that style by taking an average of 49.7% of its field goal attempts from behind the arc.
If a team is going to beat Gonzaga, then catching fire from behind the arc may be any squad’s best hope, and the Dons are capable of doing that.
When Gonzaga Has the Ball
Gonzaga is as deep as any team in the country.
It has four players who average double-digits, including senior forward Corey Kispert, who averages 19.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Alongside him in the frontcourt is 6-foot-10 forward Drew Timme, who puts up 18.9 points and 7.1 rebounds a contest.
The backcourt consists of Jalen Suggs, who was the No. 7 freshman, according to the RSCI, and Joel Ayayi, who puts up an average of 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. It’s safe to say this team is stacked at every position.
The Bulldogs’ season has been filled with blowouts through the first 19 games.
They’re averaging 92.7 points per game while allowing just 69.7, good for a margin of +23.0 per game. They average 123.8 points per every 100 possessions, and when that’s adjusted for opponents, it’s second-best in the nation.
The Zags are allowing 88.29 points per possession on defense, good for sixth-best in Division I, according to KenPom. They rank toward the top in every statistical category not only in the West Coast Conference, but the entire country.
The one “blemish” to this defense is their ability to defend the 3-point shots. They rank 115th in the country in that statistic allowing teams to make 34.9% of their 3-point attempts.
This is where the Dons will need to be near-perfect in order to keep this game close.
When San Francisco Has the Ball
The Dons quite literally live or die by the 3. They rank fifth in the nation on 3-point field goal attempts, shooting nearly half their shots from behind the arc. On those attempts, they make 35.8% of them.
They have one of the stronger backcourts in the conference behind senior guard Jamaree Boyea and junior guard Khalil Shabazz. Boyea averages 16.7 points per game, and his counterpart puts up 16.2 points per game. This dynamic duo has accounted for 625 of the Dons’ 1,387 total points this season, which is 45.1%.
Along with those two guards, the Dons have another scoring threat in Dzmitry Ryuny, who has connected on 43 of his 124 3-point attempts this year. These three will need to all be aggressive and connect at a high percentage in order to try and stay competitive with the best team in the country.
The First Matchup
The Bulldogs followed their average margin of victory in the first matchup, winning 85-62 on Jan. 2. The Dons held their ground for the first 19 minutes of the game, trailing 37-40, before being outscored, 25-45, in the final 21 minutes.
For the Dons, Shabazz shot just 2-for-10 from the field and scored seven points. Bouyea hit half his 3-point attempts and scored 18 points, while Ryuny contributed with 11 points.
Gonzaga had four players score in double digits, including Kispert, who shot 9-for-11 from the field for 26 points.
The Dons had no answer for Kispert and will need to focus on slowing him down. Two other players — Timme and Ayayi — posted double-doubles in that game.
Betting Analysis & Pick
This is the Zags’ final contest of a five-game road stretch, and they may be overlooking the Don’s in preparation for St. Mary’s next week.
It’s not easy to fade a historic team like Gonzaga, but this is a good spot for San Francisco. It knows it could hang with the Bulldogs in the first matchup and will be motivated at home to attempt to repeat that effort for the full 40 minutes.
Gonzaga has covered the spread in just two of its last nine outings, one of which was by one point against Pepperdine.
I’m backing the Dons and anticipate them to be firing 3s at a furious pace and maybe catch the Zags sleep-walking.
Pick: San Francisco +17.5 (down to +17).