- Gonzaga is an odds-on favorite at -125 to reach the 2021 Final Four
- The Bulldogs opened the season by beating No. 6 Kansas by 12 points and Auburn by 23
- For the 19th time in 20 years, Gonzaga is the preseason favorite to win the West Coast Conference
The Final Four seems like a long way off, considering the college basketball season is just three days old.
However, Gonzaga is already an odds-on favorite to make it to Indianapolis in early April after opening the season with a pair of impressive victories.
Odds to Reach 2021 Final Four
Odds taken Nov. 27 from FanDuel.
Fast From The Gate
Ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press media poll, Gonzaga traveled across the country to Florida to tip off its season and shined at the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off.
Three players scored 20-plus points Thursday as the Bulldogs downed No. 6 Kansas 102-90. Gonzaga was a four-point favorite in that matchup against one of college basketball’s bluebloods.
On Friday, Gonzaga rolled again, posting a 90-67 victory over Auburn as an 18.5-point favorite. Drew Timme led the way with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
Perhaps the most important part of the Zags’ performance is they won by an average of 17.5 points despite playing with body clocks that had to be messed up because of the time change.
The Thanksgiving game started at 1:30 p.m. ET and Friday’s game began at 11:00 a.m. ET. That translates to 10:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. tips in Spokane time.
Mark Few is considered one of college basketball’s best offensive coaches and Gonzaga has been unstoppable on that end of the floor in their first two games.
In addition to averaging 96.0 points, the Bulldogs are shooting 58.7% from the field and 75.7% from the foul line.
Timme has scored 53 points in two games, including dropping 25 to lead the Bulldogs in the opener. The sophomore forward is also tied for the team lead in rebounding with 16.
This is an insanely impressive post move from Drew Timme. Don't see many sophomore bigs making this type of move. pic.twitter.com/Z1FuXjHAeK
— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) November 27, 2020
Also scoring in double figures are senior forward Corey Kispert (24.0 ppg), freshman guard Jalen Suggs (18.0) and junior guard Joel Ayayi (10.0). Suggs, a five-star recruit, has dished out a team-best 14 assists and Ayayi joins Timme with 16 rebounds.
Gonzaga’s adjusted offensive efficiency of 117.3 points per 100 possessions leads the nation, according to KenPom.com. The Zags are strong defensively, too, as their 87.9 adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 11th.
Beware of COVID-19
Like every other team in the country, a COVID-19 outbreak could possibly slow Gonzaga down.
The Bulldogs had a scare Friday morning before beating Auburn. One player and one assistant coach tested positive for the coronavirus. Neither person was identified.
While there was some consideration to canceling the game, Gonzaga met the requirements of Florida’s state health department.
One Gonzaga staff member tested positive for COVID-19 in Fort Myers, and two more have been isolated due to contact tracing, but the medical staffs from all programs agreed that today's games can go on as scheduled.
Auburn vs. Saint Joseph's tips at 3:30 p.m. CT (FS1). pic.twitter.com/OGVIvBeSOh
— Josh Vitale (@JoshVitale) November 26, 2020
Math Favors Gonzaga
Some back-of-the-envelope math by SBD lead odds maker and editor Sascha Paruk shows why Gonzaga’s chances are strong of reaching the Final Four if it can receive one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Barring a UMBC-over-Virginia-type upset, Gonzaga would need to beat three capable teams to get to the Final Four. The Bulldogs’ -125 odds carry an implied probability of 55.6 percent.
They would need at least an 83% chance of winning all three games or a 57.3 percent chance of winning all three.
My Final Four Picks:
Gonzaga, Villanova, Kansas, Texas Tech
National Champ: Gonzaga
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) November 25, 2020
The Road to Indianapolis
Gonzaga needs to get a No. 1 seed for those odds to work.
For the 19th time in 20 years, Gonzaga is the preseason pick to win the West Coast Conference. As good as BYU, Saint Mary’s, and San Francisco may be, it is difficult to imagine any of them taking the WCC crown away from the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga also has a tough week it ahead as faces No. 15 West Virginia on Wednesday in Indy then visits No. 2 Baylor three days later. The Zags also play on the road against No. 5 Iowa on Dec. 19.
However, those games will only boost Gonzaga’s resume on its way to the Final Four and makes the Zags a good value bet, even at -125.
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