Memphis Tigers vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs Preview and Pick

No. 14 Memphis Tigers (19-3) at No. 18 Gonzaga Bulldogs (17-4)
McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, W.A., 9:00PM Eastern, Saturday

By Jay Horne of

One of the biggest games highlighting the weekend is the much anticipated
showdown between the No. 14 Memphis Tigers and No. 18 Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Gonzaga has a two game lead in the West Coast Conference while Memphis sports
a two game advantage in Conference USA. These two schools are in similar
situations considering they are both from rather weak conferences and a
big out of conference win would really boost their RPI. Both schools are
riding big winning streaks heading into the contest with Memphis on a 13
game success streak and Gonzaga having won 9 straight games. However, one
of those streaks will come to an end this week as these two schools square
off in Spokane, Washington.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have not been beaten since their 4 losses in late December. The Bulldogs will enter the contest after beating Portland on Thursday night 93-78. Gonzaga has played terrific basketball on both ends of the court. The Bulldogs rank in the top 25 in scoring offense averaging 79 points per game. The Bulldogs also lead the nation in defensive field goal percentage holding opponents to only 35.8% on the year. Gonzaga will look to beat a very similar Memphis that is very athletic and likes to stretch the ball up and down the court.

Memphis numbers on paper are nearly identical to Gonzaga. The Tigers are averaging 77 points per contest while holding opponents to only 37.7% from the field which ranks 8th in the country. However, the Tigers are a more athletic team than perhaps the Bulldogs who rely on more skillful plays. Memphis does a great job at limiting teams to one shot opportunities averaging 40 rebounds per game. The Tigers will need to limit the second chance opportunities they allow again prime time Saturday night when they try to get a tough win on the road.

Bookies have the betting line favoring the home team No. 18 Gonzaga Bulldogs by 4.5 points over the No. 14 Memphis Tigers. The over/under has been posted at the 139 marks despite both teams averaging nearly 80 points per contest.

The Tigers have a pretty sporty lineup with 4 players averaging double figures and a 5th player who is posting 9.5 points per contest as well. Freshmen standout guard Tyreke Evans leads the team in scoring with nearly 17 points per game. Shawn Taggart and Robert Dozier lead the team in rebounding with 7 boards a piece every outing. Memphis will need to grab every board possible on Saturday night in attempt to slow down Gonzaga who is shooting 48% from the floor this season.

Gonzaga has a few primary players that can have big nights. The Bulldogs entire starting five is all averaging at least 10 points a game and the numbers are pretty tight through the lineup with the scoring leader on the team Josh Heytvelt posting just 14 points per game. However the Bulldogs present threats all over the floor and unlike many teams who are carried by a few individuals, you must be able to guard every player on the court when squaring off with Gonzaga. The Bulldogs would love nothing more than to conclude out of conference play with a big win over Memphis.

Betting Trends
Gonzaga sports a pretty fair 7-4 ATS mark at home this season, but has never beaten the Tigers in 3 attempts. Memphis has won 4 of the last 5 ATS while favoring the under in 4 of those 5 games as well. The Tigers sports a 3-0 record against Gonzaga over the past 4 seasons.

Jays Pick: Over 139 points.