- No. 1 Gonzaga and St. Mary’s meet for the first time this season in the preeminent rivalry in the West Coast Conference
- Gonzaga is averaging 96 points per game against a schedule that has included four Top-20 teams
- Check the odds, our analysis and betting prediction below
Gonzaga (13-0, 4-0 West Coast) has made a convincing claim as the No. 1 team in the country and potentially the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. The numbers are that good. The Bulldogs lead NCAA Division I in scoring offense (96 points per game) and field goal percentage (55.6) and are second in assists (21.2), entering the Saint Mary’s game.
Gonzaga vs Saint Mary’s Picks and Odds
|Gonzaga Bulldogs||-2500||-15.5 (-110)||148.5 Over (-105)|
|St. Mary’s Gaels||+1200||+15.5 (-110)||148.5 Under-(114)|
Odds from FanDuel on Jan. 15. Game is at 10 pm ET in Moraga, Calif.
KenPom also ranks Gonzaga No. 1 in both adjusted scoring and adjusted efficiency margin, and the Bulldogs have put up those numbers against a taxing nonconference schedule. The Zags own a 102-90 victory over No. 6 Kansas, an 87-82 victory over No. 11 West Virginia, a 99-88 victory over No. 5 Iowa and a 98-75 victory over No. 16 Virginia.
The Bulldogs’ scheduled game against No. 2 Baylor on Dec. 5 because of COVID-19 issues in the Gonzaga program, as were four others.
The Preeminent WCC Rivalry Has Turned North
Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s (9-4, 0-2) have won the last 10 West Coast Conference titles, 18 of the last 20 and 20 of the last 24. The regular-season series, however, has taken a major swing toward Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have won 18 of the last 22 meetings, a run that began after the Gaels won the 2012 WCC conference championship game in Las Vegas.
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) January 16, 2021
Saint Mary’s won two of the three between the two in the 2011-2012 season but has won only once at home since. The Gaels’ last victory came in 2019 WCC title game, when they secured a berth in the NCAA tournament with a 60-47 victory over the then-No.1 Bulldogs.
The victory in the 2019 title game might inform the Gaels’ game plan Saturday. Saint Mary’s slowed the pace and limited the Zags to 37% shooting from the floor. As now, Gonzaga entered that game as the highest-scoring team in NCAA Division 1.
Gonzaga won all three meetings last season by an average of 19.3 points. The Zags won 90-60 in Moraga last season.
Joel Ayayi Makes Gonzaga History
Gonzaga has had seven NBA first-round draft picks since Adam Morrison in 2006, but none did what junior guard Joel Ayiyi did in a 116-88 victory over Portland last Saturday — Ayayi had the first triple-double in school history with 12 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ 16th straight victory.
— SWXRightNow (@SWXRightNow) November 13, 2020
Ayayi, a 6-foot-5 native of Bordeaux, France, is a tough cover because of his size, quickness and athleticism. He has five double-doubles this season, including the triple-double. He has season highs of 21 points (twice), 18 rebounds and 14 assists and is shooting 61.5% from the field and has made 11 of 32 three-point attempts.
Ayayi considered entering the NBA draft after averaging 10.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season but withdrew his name.
Gonzaga Has Been Favored in Every Game
The linesmakers have been strong on Gonzaga from the start. The Bulldogs have been favored in all 13 of their games, including the season-opener against Kansas at neutral site on Nov. 26 and at Iowa three weeks later. They have been a 30-plus point favorite five times and are 1-4 ATS in those games. They are 7-6 against the total, which has been in the 160s the last five games.
— WCC Basketball (@WCChoops) January 15, 2021
Saint Mary’s is 6-7 against the spread, 2-2 as an underdog. The Gaels have been under in four of the last five, and their totals are usually in the 130 range. They lost to BYU as a one-point home favorite on Thursday. Gonzaga beat BYU by 17, a push, on Jan. 7.
This will be Gonzaga’s second true road game, their victory at Portland on Jan 9. the first.
Gonzaga is the first team to open its season with 13 straight games scoring 85 points or more since Loyola Marymount in 1990-91.
Saint Mary’s Gets a Boost From Johnson
Saint Mary’s active junior guard Logan Johnson has averaged 13.8 points and is 18 for 25 from field in his most recent four starts since working his way back into the starting lineup following an ankle injury suffered in a 66-64 victory over Northern Iowa on Nov. 26, the kind of victory that a mid-major needs when the NCAA tournament committee lays out the field.
Johnson, who began his college career at Cincinnati, has taken a step up this season after averaging 6.6 minutes and 1.4 points a game off the bench.
Tommy Kuhse leads the Gaels with a 14.5 scoring average. Wooden Award Watch guard Corey Kispert leads Gonzaga and is 25th in NCAA Division I with a 21.1 scoring average and is one of four Bulldogs averaging in doubles figures, and Florida transfer sixth man Andrew Nembhard is at 9.5.
The pick: Gonzaga -15.5 (-110)
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