Pepperdine Waves vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs Pick 1/4/20
Pepperdine Waves (7-8 SU, 5-8 ATS) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (15-1 SU, 8-6 ATS)
When: Saturday, January 4, 10 p.m.
Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Wash.
Point Spread: PEPP +21/GONZ -21 (WagerWeb)
Total: O/U 162
Last Time Out:
Pepperdine lost 59-56 to Pacific; Gonzaga beat Portland 85-72.
Scouting the Waves:
Pepperdine is a difficult team to figure out. On the one hand, the Waves have three big scorers in Colbey Ross and the two Edwards, Kameron and Kessler. That’s helped them to stay close with the likes of Arizona, who barely escaped from Pepperdine with a 93-91 win. However, this team has also lost to the likes of Sacramento State, Pacific, and San Jose State. That’s in large part because the Waves really can’t play any defense, other than the Pacific game. Pepperdine lost to the Tigers because it got drawn into the Pacific’s slow-paced game and didn’t have the defense necessary to force Pacific to speed up the tempo. The Waves are at their best when they’re playing fast and facing a team that doesn’t value great defense. In seven of their eight games this season, at least one squad has hit 80 points, with both sides going over that total on three occasions.
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Scouting the Bulldogs:
Was the game at Portland a sign of things to come, or the wake-up call the Bulldogs needed as they get into WCC play? Honestly, it’s probably neither, unless Gonzaga’s 3-point defense continues to struggle as much as it did against the Pilots. Portland did as well as it did against the Bulldogs because the Pilots shot 61.5 percent from behind the arc, which is going to make you competitive against anybody. Gonzaga won anyway because it played clean, efficient basketball aga turned it over a mere four times against a team that averages six steals a game. So really, there’s probably not a whole lot to worry about as far as the Bulldogs are concerned. Gonzaga is still a great team with players that are far too talented for the WCC, and there’s no reason to think that Pepperdine is going to be much of a threat to their winning streak.
Gonzaga’s mentality. Just how angry are the Bulldogs at getting forced to play a tight game against Portland? After a game like that, there’s a good chance that the Bulldogs will come home looking to make a significant statement to their fans, and they’ve got the kind of opponent against whom they can do exactly that. Pepperdine does not play defense anywhere near the level needed to stop Gonzaga, and if the Bulldogs are mentally ready to play this game, they’re going to be able to put up a huge number. It might be worth taking Gonzaga to go over its total on its own, as the Bulldogs’ top-ranked offense should be able to do anything it wants against this defense.
Pepperdine will Cover if:
The Waves can shoot the lights out. This is really Pepperdine’s only option for staying in this game. The Waves can’t play slowdown the way Pacific or Loyola Marymount can; they can’t rely on their defense like Saint Mary’s or San Diego, and they certainly can’t hope to outrebound Gonzaga the way Michigan did. Given how well Gonzaga handled Portland, turnovers aren’t really an option for Pepperdine either. The Waves have to take good shots and hit enough of them to allow themselves to stay in the contest. It won’t be easy.
Gonzaga will Cover if:
Gonzaga controls the glass. The Bulldogs grab almost eight rebounds a game more than Pepperdine does, and the Waves don’t have anyone who can stand up to the Bulldogs in the frontcourt. Kessler Edwards is Pepperdine’s top rebounder, but at 6’8″, he’s giving away too much size to 6’11” Filip Petrusev and 6’10” Killian Tillie. The Bulldogs should have no trouble limiting Pepperdine to one shot per trip and scoring several easy put-backs on offense.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
I don’t see this one being a close game. Pepperdine doesn’t have the personnel that’s needed to challenge Gonzaga. Yes, both teams played a close game against Arizona, their one common opponent, but Gonzaga’s win over Arizona wasn’t as close as the scoreboard indicates. The Bulldogs were in control and held a double-digit lead before managing to play carelessly enough to allow Arizona to climb back into the contest in the final minute.
Plus, when Pepperdine got to play Arizona, it did so as part of the Wooden Legacy, a tournament held in Anaheim, 55 miles from the Waves’ Malibu campus. Gonzaga had to go to McKale Center and beat Arizona in Tucson, and the Bulldogs still did a better job on the Wildcats than the Waves did. That gives you a pretty good idea that there’s a wide talent gap between these teams, and Gonzaga should exploit it. Give me the Bulldogs.