Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Washington State Cougars Preview and Pick

No. 5 Gonzaga Bulldogs -3.5 (6-0) ATS 4-1, SU 6-0 at Washington State +3.5 (6-2) ATS 2-4, SU 6-2 Wednesday December 9, 2008 Friel Court, WSU campus, Pullman, Washington 10:00 p.m. EST

by Wilson of Predictem.com

The big matchup early this week in college basketball is on the West Coast; well, how about three hours from the Pacific. The Gonzaga Bulldogs will make the 70-mile trip south of Spokane to Pullman, Washington where they plan to do something they haven’t done in two years- beat the WSU Cougars.

The Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 5 in the country and have a perfect record at 6-0. The Cougars are not as perfect with a 6-2 mark but they are always up for hosting their recent in-state rivals. Friel Court, on the WSU campus will be sold out and fans not lucky enough to see it live will be glued to their televisions as this game will surely set the pace for both teams.

The Zags lead the series 5-2 having dropped the last two in row, but this year may prove to be one of Gonzaga’s best as they finally have all the pieces in place. The Bulldog’s big-man, Josh Heytvelt had 17 points in the 70-54 win over the Indiana Hoosiers as guards Matt Bouldin and Jeremy Pargo contributed 13 points each to drop the once heralded Hoosiers.

Gonzaga is definitely loaded with talent and many experts including Dick Vitale, have green-lighted them to a potential Final Four appearance this season. The Zags are averaging more than 80 points per game while only allowing 59 to their opponents. I’m sure there will be a handful of players from this roster that will play at the next level, and 6’11 200 lb Austin Daye will probably be the most sought after by the NBA scouts. Daye is deadly from three point range and has the whole package on both sides of the ball. The list is too long to cover all of the guys, but freshman guard Demetri Goodson could be one of the fastest guards in the country, and in time he will be a major weapon in the back court.

The Cougars are coming off of a home loss to the Baylor Bears 58-52. But the Cougs are never down for long, as head coach Tony Bennet runs a great defensive minded team that forces other teams to adjust to their game plan. This method has proven to be successful as the Cougars have clamped down and beat a lot of good teams including Gonzaga. The Cougs won this matchup last season 51-47.

WSU is led by guard Taylor Rochestie, and two new recruits in Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto. Casto is a big body from nearby Spokane who has two state high school championships under his belt. Freshman guard, Thompson, is the son of former NBA great Michael Thompson of the Los Angeles Lakers. I really like how Thompson plays the game as he is a major contributor to the Cougar offense. The Cougs experienced big man in the paint is senior Aron Baynes who has developed well from a season ago as his hands are better and he’s dropped about 15 pounds.

The spread on this game is not yet out, but if tradition serves well, it should be another barn burner in Pullman. I would venture to give the Zags an early advantage by at least 10 points. However, the Cougars are tough at home and have won the last two contests in the series. But this year I don’t think WSU can muster up enough stops to slow down the highly ranked and extremely talented Bulldogs. Mark Few might finally get over the hump and break into the Final Four with this squad.

Wilson’s Pick: Gonzaga gets revenge by covering the points in Pullman to remain undefeated. Luck to ya.