WCC Tournament: Saint Mary’s vs Gonzaga Prediction
Saint Mary’s vs Gonzaga Preview
The top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs are looking for a seventh straight WCC Tournament title to add to yet another 30-win campaign. The Bulldogs (30-2) look to bag that title and also attempt to win their 22nd straight contest when they face second-seeded Saint Mary’s on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Top-seeded Gonzaga had no trouble routing Pepperdine 100-74 in Monday’s semifinals. The Gaels beat San Diego 69-62 in the other tilt to reach the tournament final for the eighth time in the past 11 seasons.
These teams are no stranger to one another, but it always seems like the Zags end up on top–even more so this season. Gonzaga won the matchups by an average of 31 points and steamrolled Saint Mary’s 94-46 on Feb. 9 in Spokane, Wash. The 48-point margin of defeat was the fourth-worst in Gaels’ history and the only time they have lost by 30 or more points during coach Randy Bennett’s 18 seasons.
The Gaels (21-11) are on the NCAA Tournament bubble and will likely miss the cut without a win and automatic berth tonight.
A Saint Mary’s win would be one for the ages because Gonzaga looks like a force that can’t be stopped right now. In their win over Pepperdine they shot 59.7 percent from the field and led by as many as 41 points.
Sophomore guard Zach Norvell Jr. was the high scorer with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
“When guys are clicking, we’re on the same page, and just sharing the ball,” Norvell said in the postgame press conference. He said that head coach Mark Few “yells at us a lot — ‘Just make the right basketball play.’ — You’re rewarded when you play the game the right way. And I think that’s something we’ve been trying to do a lot.”
Gonzaga received a boost by having junior forward Killian Tillie on the floor for the first time since he partially tore a ligament in his right foot against San Francisco on Feb. 7.
Tillie went 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the first half. He finished with nine points and six rebounds in 15 minutes.
“The team is really deep,” Tillie said in a postgame interview with ESPN. “Everybody can score. That’s what makes this team very dangerous.
“Everybody shares the ball. That’s what makes this team so great.”
Lately, the Gaels have been beating everyone except Gonzaga. They have eight wins in their last 10 games. Both losses during the stretch were to the Zags.
Sophomore forward Malik Fitts recorded 19 points and 12 rebounds against the Toreros for his second double-double in four games and sixth of the season.
“I know the guys, the coaching staff, everybody is going to be 100 percent dialed in and ready to compete,” Fitts said after the contest in reference to a third meeting with Gonzaga.
LINE: -15 Gonzaga
Dan’s Bet: +15 Saint Mary’s
Gonzaga will win this game easily, but I see the Gaels with a furious comeback late to take their 20+ point deficit to close to ten as the game draws to a close.
Score Prediction: Gonzaga 80 Saint Mary’s 66