Thanks to their six-game winning streak, the Gonzaga Bulldogs currently sitting at the top of WCC Standings, 1.5 games ahead of the Saint Mary’s Gaels. The season is, however, far from finished, so the Bulldogs will need to maintain their winning momentum for the rest of the season if they are to repeat as conference champions. In essence, this means that the Zags must treat Saturday’s road trip at #16 SMU Mustangs with all the seriousness it deserves in the NCAAB lines. But before you guide your wagers on this game preview below, let’s recap on their last confrontation, which was in November 2014.
Gonzaga vs. SMU NCAAB Matchup and TV Information
When: Saturday, February 13, 10:00 PM ET
Where: Moody Coliseum, Dallas, Texas
Opening Lines: TBA
Why Bet on Gonzaga
After a slow start to the season that saw them trail the WCC standings for the majority of the season, the Bulldogs are seemingly back to their ferocious ways, winning the last six in a row and 14 of their last 16 outings.
In their last outing, a 92-66 win over Portland, the Zags were absolutely lights out in the offense, nailing 15 of their 26 three point attempts. Gonzaga’s leading scorer on the season, Kyle Wiltjer, led the team with five 3-pointers and 21 points, Domantas Sabonis had his 15 double-double of the season (17 points and 11 rebounds) and the rest of the team also chipped in handily–Kyle Dranginis (16 points), Eric McClellan (14 points) and Silas Melson (13 points).
If this blistering talent-laden offense, which is averaging 80.2 PPG (35th-best in the nation), can show up strongly against SMU, the Bulldogs will certainly have a shot at winning this game. This should be particularly encouraged by the fact that Gonzaga has a solid defense that is allowing just 65.3 PPG (35th-best in the nation).
Why Bet on SMU
Interestingly, the Mustangs compare very closely with the Bulldogs in terms of offensive and defensive production. Offensively, the Mustangs are scoring 79.9 PPG (36th-best in the nation) and giving up 64.4 PPG (25th-best in the nation), something that points out to the popular expectation that we will be having a close contest between the Bulldogs and Mustangs this Saturday.
Statistics aside, the Bulldogs have lost just three games and have a 20-3 record (the best mark in the American Conference). As a concern, though, the Mustangs are coming off an 82-77 defeat to Tulsa, a loss that marked SMU’s first home loss of the season.
In addition, after starting the season with 18 straight wins, the Mustangs have been very shaky, losing three of their last five overall games. Against a Gonzaga team that has lost just once on the road this season, which they in fact put a spirited 70-67 losing effort at SMC, the Mustangs will need to regroup quickly and get back to basics in order to avoid a second straight home loss.
Expert NCAAB Predictions and Picks
While Nic Moore and his fellow Mustangs are talented enough to win this likely shootout affair, their recent struggles makes me doubt their abilities. This is mainly because all three of SMU‘s losses have come against teams with worse records than the Bulldogs, while Gonzaga has been on an absolute tear—especially in the offense where they have averaged nearly 84 PPG scoring in their last 16 contest (14 of those being wins). On that basis, I believe both teams will combine for tons of points, with each of them scoring 70-plus points, but in the end, Gonzaga’s superior offense will find a way to outlast SMU for a close win.
NCAAB Picks: Gonzaga for SU, Gonzaga for ATS, Total: OVER, Score Prediction: Gonzaga 83, SMU 80.