Pacific vs #1 Gonzaga

Pacific vs #1 Gonzaga | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on January 22, 2021

Top-ranked and unbeaten Gonzaga has basically been killing opposing teams and that’s not likely to end on Saturday night when the Zags host an overmatched Pacific team that will be a massive road underdog on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Pacific at Gonzaga NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, 10 PM ET
  • Where: McCarthey Athletic Center
  • TV: Root Sports
  • Stream: School websites
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: TBA (Gonzaga will be favored)

Last Meeting

Pacific and Gonzaga played just once last season and the bulldogs prevailed 92-59 at home when the Zags were ranked No. 2. Killian Tillie (now in NBA) scored 22 points and blocked four shots. Tillie made nine of his 11 shots, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. He also grabbed eight rebounds and helped shut down the Pacific offense. Corey Kispert added 16 points and Filip Petrusev had 15 for Gonzaga. Pacific shot dramatically worse in the second half, making just 23.5% of its shots, and was held to 26 points. The Tigers have lost 15 in a row to Gonzaga.

Why Bet on Pacific? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Tigers will be on a quick turnaround after visiting Pepperdine on Thursday. That was just Pacific’s seventh game of the season as it has had several either canceled or postponed due to COVID protocols.

Thursday was also only Pacific’s second Division I road tilt of the season, as they lost at Nevada by a final of 70-58 on Nov. 30. Pacific’s only other road game was a 92-64 win on Dec. 20 at Westmont College (NAIA) before an extended COVID-19 pause.

Despite losing star forward Jahlil Tripp from last season’s 23-win team, Pacific has been able to replace his scoring production (Daniss Jenkins at 15.0 ppg) and frontcourt rebounding and interior presence (Jeremiah Bailey at 12.7 ppg and 8.2 rpg).

Head coach Damon Stoudamire has built a solid program and culture; Stoudamire is a former NBA star. But with little game action, it has been tough for the coaching staff to figure out what combinations of pieces work together and what Pacific’s rotation will be going forward. The Tigers struggle to score in their half-court offense and rank sixth in the West Coast Conference this season.

“Last year we really knew who we were in terms of our identity around this time,” junior guard Jahbril Price-Noel said earlier this week. “We knew what our bread and butter was which was rebounding and defense. Having an identity becomes your blood, and I feel like we trying to get to that point. We are not fully there yet, but we are approaching it. Once we find what our identity is and we stick to that every single day, we will be fine moving forward.”

As for Saturday, the Tigers have beaten Gonzaga only once in school history and it happened on Dec. 23, 1970 in Stockton by a final of 70-60.

Pacific has seven wins all-time over ranked opponents, with the most recent coming in the 2004 NCAA Tournament when the Tigers knocked off No. 21 Providence, 66-58. Pacific has registered three wins all-time versus teams ranked in the Top 10, with the most recent coming in a 62-56 home victory over No. 10 UNLV on Feb. 4, 1993. The highest-ranked team the Tigers have beaten in program history is No. 5 Long Beach State in Stockton on Jan. 30, 1972 at the Stockton Civic Memorial Auditorium. The highest ranked team the Tigers have taken down on the road is No. 24 New Mexico State on Jan. 28, 1995.

Why Bet on Gonzaga? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Gonzaga (14-0) will be well-rested as it last took the court last Saturday and won at Saint Mary’s 73-59. Dan Fotu scored 15 points to lead Saint Mary’s, which jumped out to a 22-12 lead 11 minutes into the game. Gonzaga closed the first half with a 20-3 run to take a 32-25 halftime lead. Jalen Suggs scored 10 points in the first four minutes of the second half to get the Zags’ lead over 10 and they didn’t look back. Gonzaga committed 11 turnovers and had just six assists.

Corey Kispert had 17 points and five rebounds for the Zags in their 18th straight victory spanning the past two seasons. Joel Ayayi scored 16 points for the Bulldogs. Saint Mary’s pulled to 56-48 on Fotu’s layup with 9:01 to play before another decisive Gonzaga burst, this time 8-0. The Zags shot 53.8%.

“Not a pretty game for us, and Saint Mary’s deserves a lot of credit for that,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “I thought they did a good job of taking the fight to us, especially that first few minutes, then we kind of settled in.”

On Monday, Kispert and Suggs were named the WCC Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, respectively. In the eight recognitions of the WCC Player of the Week so far this season, seven Zags have received the honor, including five different GU players. The exception came on Dec. 14, a week when GU did not play a game. A Bulldog player has received the freshman of the week honor six of the eight weeks.

Kispert totaled 40 points in a pair of wins; he made 12 of his 24 shots from the field, including nine of 17 from behind-the-arc (52.9 percent). Kispert leads the West Coast Conference scoring 20.93 points per game. He also tops the league making 3.14 threes per game, shooting a WCC-best 48.9 percent from behind-the-perimeter.

Suggs scored 32 points on 52 percent (13-of-25) shooting from the field last week. Suggs leads the West Coast Conference in steals per game (2.42), is third in the conference averaging 4.67 assists per game and sixth making 53.7 percent from the field.

The Bulldogs are operating one of the top offenses in the nation without huge reliance on three-pointers. Instead, they drive to the hoop and pound it down low. Gonzaga attempts 52.9 percent of their field goals at the rim, where the team shoots 72.3 percent.

Expert Prediction

  • Gonzaga 84, Pacific 67

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