Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Saint Mary’s Gaels Pick

by | Jan 16, 2021 | cbb

Gonzaga Bulldogs (13-0 SU, 6-6-1 ATS) vs. Saint Mary’s Gaels (9-4 SU, 6-7 ATS)
When: Saturday, January 16, 10 p.m.
Where: University Credit Union Pavilion, Moraga, Calif.

Point Spread: GONZ -15.5/SMC +15.5 (Get the best lines >>>)
Total: 148

Last Time Out:

Gonzaga routed Pepperdine 95-70; Saint Mary’s lost 62-52 to BYU.

About the Matchup:

It’s yet another home game for Saint Mary’s, not that it’s helped the Gaels much in the race for the West Coast Conference. Thanks to a Jan. 7 game against San Diego getting called off, the Gaels haven’t left California since Nov. 27, when they played in a tournament in South Dakota. But despite that edge, Saint Mary’s has dropped three of its past four games and hasn’t scored more than 64 points in any of its past five. Against Gonzaga, that could be a recipe for disaster. The Bulldogs haven’t been held under 85 points even once this season and have averaged 96 points per game. When Saint Mary’s played Colorado State last month, the game didn’t feature 96 points total. Gonzaga scores like nobody’s business and hasn’t run into anyone capable of slowing it down even a little. West Virginia is the only team who’s stayed within double digits of the Bulldogs, and most opponents end up losing by 15 or more. In fact, of the ten games Gonzaga has played since West Virginia, Iowa is the only opponent who would have covered the spread that Saint Mary’s is getting in this game. Can the Gaels somehow slow this juggernaut down enough to steal this game…or at least get its backers a backdoor cover?

Scouting the Bulldogs:

It’s really not fair to ask the rest of the West Coast Conference to compete with this juggernaut, as Gonzaga doesn’t have any kind of weakness that its conference foes can exploit. The Bulldogs move the ball well, don’t make mistakes, rebound it well and take excellent shots, which is why they’re the runaway favorite to win their first national championship.

The one thing that opponents can exploit is the fact that Gonzaga doesn’t shoot the deep shot all that well. Only Corey Kispert can regularly knock down 3-pointers, which is why more than 40 percent of the Bulldogs’ deep shots have come from him. But that’s the kind of weakness that a team like Baylor might be able to exploit, not somebody like Saint Mary’s. The Gaels do play excellent defense on the perimeter, but Gonzaga is such a matchup nightmare with Drew Timme inside that it doesn’t matter if the Bulldogs aren’t hitting shots from outside.

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Scouting the Gaels:

The plus side for Saint Mary’s in the loss to BYU was that Tommy Kuhse finally hit more than 37 percent of his shots from the field. The negative was everything else. Kuhse went 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, and Saint Mary’s was 6-for-22 as a team from deep. Things weren’t much better inside the perimeter, as the Gaels were 19-for-50 for the entire game and managed just 23 points in the second half on their way to another home defeat.

What really made that loss sting for Randy Bennett’s crew was the fact that BYU didn’t even shoot well in the win, as the Cougars went just 1-for-10 from behind the arc. Winning with defense is the name of the game for Saint Mary’s, but with how poorly the Gaels are shooting, the equation is missing half of what it needs to be successful.


Nothing to lose. Saint Mary’s has stolen a few games from Gonzaga over the years in part because the Gaels are able to play without any pressure in this matchup. Gonzaga’s blue shadow has stretched over the West Coast Conference for the past two decades, but Saint Mary’s has built itself into a national program in its own right and would likely attract a lot more attention if not for the Bulldogs taking their success to incredible heights. Because nobody expects this game to be close, Saint Mary’s is free to play without any pressure and give Gonzaga its best shot. The Bulldogs have withstood their opponents’ best punch for 17 straight games, but even the best teams are human and will eventually falter. If it’s going to happen anytime soon, this would be the most likely opportunity.

Gonzaga will Cover If:

The Bulldogs keep themselves from getting complacent. There’s little doubt that Gonzaga is going to win this game, but covering has been another matter with the Bulldogs. Gonzaga has been the basketball version of Alabama football in that the public loves to back the Bulldogs, which tends to push the spread higher than it should be. However, the Bulldogs have won each of their past nine by 17 or more, putting this spread well within reach.

Saint Mary’s will Cover If:

The Gaels can slow the game down enough to force Gonzaga out of its rhythm. The one way that Saint Mary’s can get a win is by slowing the game down to the point that the Bulldogs get thrown out of sync and start rushing their shots. If that doesn’t occur, Saint Mary’s will need a backdoor cover, as the Gaels don’t have the offense to keep up with Gonzaga when it’s running at peak efficiency.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

With how well Gonzaga has been playing as of late and how poorly Saint Mary’s is shooting, this one seems to be rather straightforward. I can’t see the Gaels hanging with the Bulldogs without getting their offense a significant jump-start, and this is the wrong game to need such a boost. Give me the Bulldogs to get the cover here.