College Basketball Pick
St. Mary’s didn’t make the NCAA Tournament last season and they can look to their WCC Tourney loss to Gonzaga as the reason for that. But already with some nice non-Conference wins and a 13-point win over BYU, the Gaels are hoping that will be enough even without a WCC Tourney title. The problem for St. Mary’s is that they get this Game just two days after traveling to Portland on Thursday. Gonzaga is in the same situation but is at home in both Games this week.
During the regular season last year, St. Mary’s won both of these matchups, which was a bit surprising. However, when it mattered most, Gonzaga got the win and advanced to the big Tourney. And while St. Mary’s looks better than a year ago, the same can be said of Gonzaga. The Bulldogs still haven’t lost and already have big wins over Iowa State, Arizona and Tennessee. They’ve had no problems in early Conference play and have more depth than a season ago.
The Gaels look good in Conference play as well, but haven’t been blowing out teams as easily as Gonzaga. That doesn’t mean everything, but Zaga’s depth could be the deciding factor. The Bulldogs have five guys averaging at least 10 points per Game with two more at nine and eight points per contest. The Gaels can’t compete with those numbers as they only have five guys with more than five points per Game.
St. Mary’s runs its offense through big man Jock LAndale, who’s averaging 18.4 points and 9.7 boards per Game. Those numbers are great, but he’ll get a viable test in this Game against Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski (12.5 ppg, 6.0 reb), who’s even bigger and more experienced at the college level. But that’s not where their size ends as freshman Zach Collins is another 7-footer in the lineup while transfer Jonathan Williams can also defend bigger guys in the post.
To win this Game on the road, other players will need to step up like Emmett Naar (10.3 ppg, 5.7 apg) and Calvin Hermanson. If either of them play similar to last Saturday, this could end up being a double-digit loss for the Gaels. Even though they won at San Fran, Hermanson was in foul trouble and only played nine minutes while Naar didn’t make a shot from the field. The Gaels will not only need LAndale to reach his season averages against a formidable front cOurt, but also the players around him need to up their Game.
On the other side of the cOurt, it’s a different story with transfer Nigel Williams-Goss (15.3 ppg, 6.1 reb, 4.8 apg) leading the way and he’s about as consistent as they come, never scoring less than eight points in a Game all season. In addition to the aforementioned bigs he’s surrounded by, shooter Jordan Mathews (2.7 made threes per Game) is another transfer that has moved seamlessly into the lineup to go with junior glue guy Josh Perkins (10.3 ppg).
The Zags are undefeated for a reason and while the Gaels are probably a better team than a year ago, expecting to win in back-to-back seasons in Spokane is asking for too much. Gonzaga is cruising and its depth will be the ultimate decider in this matchup.
Our Pick – Gonzaga by 10