Washington State Cougars (6-0 3-1 ATS) vs. No. 16 Gonzaga Bulldogs (5-1 3-1 ATS) McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, WA 9 PM EST Wednesday December 2, 2009
by Jason Green at Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cougars +13 / Bulldogs -13
Tonight in a West Coast game the 16th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs host the undefeated Washington State Cougars. WSU has not lost a game, but they have not played a tough early-season schedule. However, they did school a legit San Diego squad in their last game. The only loss for the Zags this season was to Michigan State, who is ranked in the top 25, and they recently won the Maui Invitational beating the solid teams of Colorado and Wisconsin and then Cincinnati in the finals.
The Zags have a solid inside-out game while the Cougars have a perimeter-oriented team with only one frontcourt player that is averaging in double figures. If the Cougars win this game they can prove they are for real, as they are predicted to finish near the basement of the Pac 10. Gonzaga is picked to win the WCC yet again and they are off to a good start before they begin conference play.
In their last game Gonzaga beat Cincinnati 61-59 in the finals of the Maui Invitational and WSU crushed San Diego 93-56.
In their win over Cincinnati in the finals of the Maui Invitational the Zags made a couple of big plays at the end of regulation. 7-footer Robert Sacre hit on a shot to tie the game and then hustled down court to swat an alley-oop pass that would have won the game for the Bearcats. The Zags were a little lucky that the Bearcats were not shooting the rock well, as they only shot 35.4% from the field, 25.8% from 3-pt land, and 45.5% from the free throw line. The game was a pick-em game so the Zags covered and the posted total of 141 was not reached.
In the finals of the Great Alaska shootout the Cougars totally dominated San Diego and shot lights out. They shot 62.5% from the floor and 60% from 3-pt land. G Klay Thompson set a tournament record blowing up for 43 points. The Cougars only had a 7-point halftime lead, but out-scored San Diego 54 points to 24 points in the 2nd half. WSU played solid defense, as San Diego only shot 34.5% from the floor and 27.3% from 3-pt land.
Gonzaga’s frontcourt players of C Robert Sacre (14.3 ppg 6.5 rpg) and F Elias Harris (12.7 ppg 7.7 rpg) should go off tonight against the Cougars on both ends of the court since WSU does not have much inside presence.
WSU F DeAngelo Casto (12.8 ppg 5.7 rpg) is the only Cougars player that is averaging over 5 rebounds per game and he is only 6’8″ while Sacre is a 7-footer, who should score with ease tonight.
WSU G Klay Thompson (28.3 ppg) has played great this season and has used his size (6’6″) to shoot over smaller guards. Don’t count on that happening tonight, as the Zags’ backcourt of Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray are both 6’5″ and very quick.
Thomson is shooting an amazing 56.8% from beyond the 3-pt arc, but with the height that the Zags have in the backcourt he will not have open looks at the hoop so he will struggle.
Thomson has won the Pac 10 Player of the Week 2 weeks in a row, but it will not be 3 weeks, as he will not have a good shooting game tonight.
The Cougars are totally outmatched in the frontcourt and they will not be able to contain the Zags on the boards, as Gonzaga should get a lot of 2nd chance hoops because of offensive rebounds.
WSU has dominated this series over the years between the two schools that are only 70 miles apart, but in the Zags are 8-2 in the last 10 games between these two teams.
Jason’s Pick: This is not a good match up for the Cougars who lack veteran experience and especially any inside scoring and rebounding. The Zags are a well-balanced and experienced team that is used to winning and that will not change tonight, as they will easily win this game and cover the spread.