Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga
Published on Feb. 9 at 12:55 p.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
In terms of mid-major rivalries over the last decade, none have surpassed the intensity we see when WCC powerhouses Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga meet up. These schools are set to square off again tonight in a crucial showdown at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane.
BetOnline.com opened Gonzaga (18-4 SU, 9-12-1 ATS) as a three-point home favorite with a total of 140. As of early this afternoon, most books had the Bulldogs favored by 3 1/2 with the total slightly adjusted to 139 1/2. Gamblers can take Saint Mary’s to win outright for a plus-150 return (risk $100 to win $150).
Mark Few’s squad will have revenge on its mind after taking an 83-62 shellacking at Saint Mary’s on Jan. 12. The Bulldogs have won five of six since then, but that setback prompted a 0-6-1 ATS slide coming into this contest.
Saint Mary’s (22-2 SU, 11-8 ATS) has won 12 consecutive games and hasn’t tasted defeat since a Dec. 22 loss to Baylor in Las Vegas. The Gaels are coming off an 84-73 non-covering victory over San Diego as 19-point home favorites.
Randy Bennett’s squad is led by junior guard Matthew Dellavedova, who is averaging a team-high 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game. Dellavedova had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in Saturday’s win over the Toreros. He dropped 26 points and six assists on Gonzaga in the aforementioned blowout victory nearly a month ago.
Rob Jones, a transfer from USD, is a senior forward with excellent skills and plenty of muscle to mix it up in the lane. Jones is averaging 14.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. He only had two points against Gonzaga earlier this year but did have a quality floor game with 11 rebounds and a season-high eight assists.
Gonzaga is led by junior forward Elias Harris, who had 17 points and 11 boards at Saint Mary’s. Harris is averaging 13.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs also have one of the nation’s top post players in senior center Robert Sacre, who is averaging 11.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The seven-footer was plagued by foul trouble in the first meeting, scoring only two points in 18 minutes of playing time.
Saint Mary’s is in just its third underdog situation of the season, going 1-1 both SU and ATS in the two previous spots. The Gaels won outright at BYU but lost 72-59 to Baylor as three-point ‘dogs.
The ‘under’ is 14-7-1 overall for Gonzaga, 8-3-1 in its home games. However, we should note that the ‘over’ has cashed in back-to-back games for the Bulldogs.
The ‘over’ is 10-8 overall for Saint Mary’s, but the ‘under’ is on a 4-2 run in the Gaels’ last six contests. The ‘under’ is also 4-2 in the last six head-to-head meetings between these schools.
Tip-off is slated for 11:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
–The hoops version of the Egg Bowl (Round 2) will take place in Starkville on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2. Mississippi St. will be looking to avenge a loss at Ole Miss last month when it hosts the Rebels at The Hump. As of early this afternoon, most spots had the Bulldogs favored by eight with a total of 135 1/2.
–Wisconsin saw its six-game winning streak snapped in Saturday’s 58-52 home loss to Ohio St. The Badgers will try to get back into the win column tonight at Minnesota. They were one-point road favorites as of early Wednesday night.
–Duke erased a double-digit deficit in the last 2:34 of last night’s game at North Carolina, rallying with a 13-2 surge to capture a riveting 85-84 win in Chapel Hill. Austin Rivers drained a 28-footer from the right wing at the buzzer to sink the Tar Heels, who completely fell apart down the stretch due to abysmal late-game execution.
–Even though Purdue lost Tuesday at Ohio St., I’ve got give kudos to Matt Painter for really getting his team ready to play in Columbus. The Boilermakers, who easily took the cash as double-digit underdogs, did not back down an inch in a hostile environment and the Buckeyes were fortunate to get the outright victory.
–I believe Kentucky emerged as the unquestioned team to beat this year when it stroked Florida by a 78-58 score Tuesday night at Rupp Arena. Likewise, Anthony Davis most likely established himself as the favorite for National Player of the Year honors even though KU’s Thomas Robinson has better overall numbers.
–Clemson fell to an atrocious 1-7 ATS at home when it lost outright Tuesday to Maryland by a 64-62 count at Littlejohn Coliseum. As for the Terrapins, they have covered the spread in four straight thanks to the stellar play of point guard Terrell Stoglin, who leads the ACC in scoring.