Santa Clara Broncos at Gonzaga Bulldogs Pick 1/16/20

by | Jan 16, 2020 | cbb

Santa Clara Broncos (15-3 SU, 8-8 ATS) at Gonzaga Bulldogs (18-1 SU, 10-9 ATS)
When: Thursday, January 16, 11 p.m.
Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Wash.
TV: ESPN2

Point Spread: SCU +120/GONZ -120 (Best Basketball Lines)
Total: O/U 154.5

Last Time Out:

Santa Clara edged Saint Mary’s 67-66; Gonzaga crushed Loyola Marymount 87-62.

Scouting the Broncos:

Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek has to have a word with the West Coast Conference’s schedule-maker, as the Broncos are now on their third straight road game against what’s likely the three strongest teams the WCC has to offer. An 0-3 trip would have been easy to absorb, but the Broncos shook off a loss at San Francisco and picked up a win at Saint Mary’s, sending them to Spokane with momentum.

Truth be told, the jury is still out as to how good Santa Clara really is, as the Broncos didn’t play a tough schedule in the non-conference. In fact, per Ken Pomeroy, only Fordham has played a weaker schedule than the Broncos, who have faced a steady diet of Big West and Big Sky opponents as well as perhaps the two weakest squads in the Pac-12. Santa Clara doesn’t have a genuine star but rides the kind of statistical socialism that Wisconsin has been known for, as seven different players average 7.6 points or more for the Broncos. This is a real team that needs all of its parts working together, and it’s a young team, as the Broncos have just one senior on the roster, and Matthew Hayes has played only one minute all year.

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Scouting the Bulldogs:

While the rest of the top teams continue to fall (see: Duke at Clemson), Gonzaga continues to roll. That could be because the Bulldogs are now in West Coast Conference play and don’t have to worry about facing top-quality teams, but it’s not easy to keep your minds on the task at hand over several weeks, regardless of who you’re playing. Gonzaga nearly found that out the hard way against Pepperdine, as the Waves came close to beating the Bulldogs in the Kennel the last time Gonzaga played a home game.

Since that game, however, the Bulldogs have blown the doors off both San Diego and Loyola Marymount on the road. The question is, was that a sign of Gonzaga reasserting its dominance, or was that a product of Gonzaga playing what are likely the two worst teams in the WCC? The Lions and the Toreros didn’t exactly play a murderer’s row of a schedule either, and they’ve combined for one fewer win than Santa Clara. In fact, over their past seven games, the Bulldogs have played just one team with a winning record — and that was Eastern Washington. Gonzaga’s previous five wins have come over teams with a combined record of 34-55.

X-Factor:

Gonzaga’s mindset. Are the Bulldogs mentally prepared to play a decent opponent? Gonzaga has been playing a bunch of weak opponents, as even North Carolina has been exposed as a squad that will be lucky to make the NIT this season. Filip Petrusev and Corey Kispert are putting up great numbers, but something seems off with Gonzaga as of late. They shouldn’t have been challenged at Portland, and they certainly shouldn’t have played a tough game with Pepperdine. If Gonzaga is ready to play, this will be a comfortable win. If not, this game could be close.

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Santa Clara will Cover if:

The Broncos don’t get overwhelmed by the moment. Santa Clara’s youth could be a problem going into Gonzaga’s intimidating environment, but sometimes, young teams are too young to know what they don’t know. If the Broncos are ignorant to the situation and don’t feel any pressure, Gonzaga is there to be beaten given the performances it’s put in as of late. The question is, can Santa Clara play its game well enough to keep the pressure on the Bulldogs?

Gonzaga will Cover if:

The Bulldogs can establish themselves in the paint. Gonzaga is a much better rebounding team than Santa Clara, and the Broncos like to play fast enough to allow Gonzaga to set up easy baskets in transition. If Gonzaga is able to grab rebounds and force the Broncos into tough shots, this will be straightforward.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:

Gonzaga is the more talented team, but I can’t help thinking that something is wrong with the Bulldogs right now. Gonzaga doesn’t seem to be playing to its potential, and this is a weird year in college basketball to date. I don’t expect the Bulldogs to get beat here, but I think the Broncos are going to benefit from Gonzaga beating up on two bad teams and get more points than they should in this game.

I think the best bet to make here is the over, given that Gonzaga likes to put up points, and Santa Clara plays pretty fast. For the game, I’ll take the Broncos.

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