- Gonzaga is an 8.5-point favorite over Texas Tech on Saturday
- Gonzaga is 2-2 straight up, 0-4 ATS in its last four; Texas Tech is 3-2 ATS in their last five
- Read below for analysis and a betting prediction
No. 5 Gonzaga (8-2) is an 8.5-point favorite over Texas Tech at 1 pm ET Saturday on CBS in the Jerry Colangelo Classic at the neutral site Footprint Center in Phoenix. The Bulldogs are playing for the first time in nine days after a Dec. 12 game against Washington was canceled because of Covid issues.
No. 25 Texas Tech (7-1) started 6-0 before losing to Providence, its first Power 6 opponent this season. The Red Raiders rebounded with an overtime victory over Tennessee in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden and a victory over Arkansas State the last time out.
Texas Tech vs Gonzaga Odds
|Texas Tech Red Raiders||+310||+8.5 (-115)||Over 145.5 (-112)|
|Gonzaga Bulldogs||-400||-8.5 (-105)||Under 145.5 (-108)|
Odds from DraftKings on Dec. 17
The stage is different. The players are entirely new. But it is safe to say that both programs enter this game with memories of their last, epic, meeting, when Texas Tech took down No. 1 Gonzaga 75-69 to advance to the 2019 Final Four for the first time in the 94-year history of the program.
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The defense-first Red Raiders limited Gonzaga to 42.4 shooting from the field, 10 points below its season average, and had seven blocked shots in that game. Gonzaga is shooting a Division I-high 53 percent shooting as it enters today’s game.
The Zags’ New Look
Gonzaga added the No. 1 high school player in the nation this season in 7′ center Chet Holmgren, but the Zags still seem to be looking for ways to compensate for the loss of NBA first-round draft picks Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert, who brought a perimeter presence to the offense.
While Holmgren is off to a flying start — he averages 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.9 blocked shots per game, which is third in Division I — the Bulldogs have fallen below their usual standard from three-point range, where Kispert, especially, prospered. They are shooting 32.9 percent from distance, which is 209th in Division I and on pace to be the lowest season percentage in the last 20 years.
Kispert averaged 2.8 threes per game last year while shooting 44 percent from distance, and Suggs averaged another 1.2 threes per game and could create shots on his own. Andrew Nembhard, who has replaced Suggs at the point, is not the same type of offensive threat.
Junior 6’10” Drew Timme (18.4 points, 6.2 rebounds) and Holmgren are the focal points of a team that has gravitated away from the perimeter. Both are shooting over 63 percent from the field, and Gonzaga leads Division I at 53 percent.
New guard, the 6’7″ Julian Strawther (14.0 points, 6.5 rebounds) is averaging 2.2 threes a game and hitting 41.5 percent. New guard starter 6’3″ Rasir Bolton(10.8 points) is next at 1.9 threes per game.
The Zags shot 28.6 percent from distance in an 84-81 loss to Duke. They shot only 4.8 percent from the field in a 91-82 loss to Alabama, when Timme and Holmgren were a combined 13 of 28.
New Boss, Same as Old Boss
New Texas Tech coach Mark Adams has the Red Raiders playing the same type of “no-middle” defense that was a staple of former coach Chris Beard’s teams that played in the last three NCAA tournaments and made the national championship game in 2019. Adams was Beard’s associate head coach the previous six seasons.
The idea is to keep opponents out of the middle, limiting passing angles, and aggressively trapping the ball on the baseline. Opponents are shooting 38.5 percent this season, 34th in Division I. Providence beat the Red Raiders 72-68 despite shooting only 37.3 percent from the floor. Tennessee shot 26.8 percent in Tech’s 57-52 overtime victory.
Senior guard 6’6″ Terrence Shannon Jr. and junior guard 6’6″ guard Kevin McCullar are averaging 14.3 points on a balanced team that features four double-digit scorers and another — Oral Roberts transfer forward 6’8″ Kevin Obanor — at 9.6. McCullar had 21 points, five rebounds and four assists in a 75-62 victory over Arkansas State the last time out.
Shannon, the focal point of the offense, had 18 points and 12 rebounds against Tennessee, his second career double-double. He entered the NBA draft process this summer before removing his name, and he did not play the first three games while the situation was reviewed.
Shannon left the Arkansas State game early in the second half with what Adams called back spasms. Louisiana-Lafayette transfer reserve guard 6’3 Mylik Wilson missed the Arkansas State game with a knee issue and is expected to miss the Gonzaga game.
Gonzaga Plays ’em All
Gonzaga, which likes (and needs) to play an aggressive early-season schedule because of the lack of degree of difficulty in the West Coast Conference, will play its fifth game against an AP Top 25 opponent.
The Zags beat then No.-5 Texas and then-No. 2 UCLA while starting 6-0 before losing to then-No. 5 Duke and then-No. 16 Alabama in two of their next three. They are entering after an 80-55 home victory over Merrimack on Dec. 9.
The longest active streak in the nation pic.twitter.com/EucBl2U2bL
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) December 6, 2021
Texas Tech vs Gonzaga Best Bet
Texas Tech is 5-4 ATS. The Bulldogs are 4-6 ATS, having convinced the public to back them at almost all cost. The Zags have been favored in every game and are 2-2 when the spread is under 10 points.
Texas Tech is 3-0 in the series, including wins in 2005 and 2007, and the Raiders’ defense will keep this game close.
The pick: Texas Tech +8.5 (-112)