NCAA Basketball Betting: Gonzaga vs. St. John’s

NCAA Basketball Betting:  Gonzaga vs. St. John’s

This might not be an all time best Gonzaga team but they managed to get into the NCAA tournament by virtue of winning the Big West tournament. They got a better than expected 11 seed and now catch a favorable matchup against Big East Tournament Champion St. John’s.

Gonzaga was a ‘work in progress’ all season long. It took most of the regular season to get Polish center Przemek Karnowski aclimated to the system. They also have a nice backcourt with Eric McClellan (Vanderbilt transfer) and freshman Josh Perkins. Were that not enough, they’ve got good size up front and there’s nothing that can shred a defense faster than big men that can shoot the three. Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky transfer) in particular is a beast from outside. Domantas Sabonis is 6’11” and is getting a lot of run as a potential NBA lottery selection. That might be a stretch, but not by much.

The Big East isn’t what it used to be so St. John’s ‘credentials’ aren’t exactly Georgetown in the 1980s. They won the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden meaning they played on one of their ‘home courts’. And there’s not a lot of surprises in the opposition–every team is intimately familiar with the other having played them twice in a season. They might be a six seed but the selection committee couldn’t have given them a more brutal assignment. They’ve got to fly cross country to a two hour earlier time zone to play an unfamiliar opponent in an unfamiliar arena 2000 miles from home. And lest we forget, they’ll be playing this game at 5,290 feet above sea level when they probably didn’t play a game at over a few hundred feet all season. That’s a tall order for a team primarily made up of underclassmen who could be in ‘let down mode’ from the Big East tournament played in their home town.

Gonzaga’s Mark Few is a solid head coach and this Gonzaga team improved all year. Few things are scarier for an opponent than a team with postseason experience with a roster that can let them do a lot of different things in terms of matchups. Zags win this one comfortably–not that they need to give us a margin to cover as -1 point favorites.