Saint Mary's vs. Gonzaga Prediction: Will the Bulldogs Continue Their WCC Dominance?

Saint Mary's vs. Gonzaga prediction and pick for Saturday's college basketball showdown between the two. College basketball expert Mike Spector breaks down the WCC battle between Saint Mary's and Gonzaga.
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Saint Mary's vs. Gonzaga Prediction: Will the Bulldogs Continue Their WCC Dominance?

Much like the “Most Interesting Man in the World,” Gonzaga does not always lose West Coast Conference games, but when they do, it is either to BYU or Saint Mary’s. Gonzaga has obliterated their conference foes for much of the last decade. But just looking at a screenshot since the 2014-15 season to now, Gonzaga has compiled a 121-7 regular-season conference record. Three of those losses have been to Saint Mary’s, with an additional win by the Gaels coming in the 2019 WCC Championship Game.

Click here for Saint Mary's vs. Gonzaga odds

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Saint Mary's vs. Gonzaga Prediction

If Gonzaga were to lose a conference game this season, one would figure that the best chance for it to happen would be in one of their two meetings with Saint Mary’s. Will the Gaels earn a rare win at the Kennel, or will the Bulldogs continue their dominance over conference opponents?

Here are our picks and predictions for the WCC battle between Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga.

Saint Mary’s (20-5, 8-2) made noise in the nonconference portion of their schedule, beating Notre Dame and Oregon in the Maui Invitational before losing a hard-fought game to possible Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the final. Along with wins over Yale and Utah State, that has earned the Gaels a top-21 NET ranking, and they are one of just three WCC teams with at least six combined Quad 1 and 2 wins.

Gonzaga (20-2, 9-0) enters on a 13-game winning streak, second only to Wagner’s 16-game streak for the longest active streak in Division I. The Bulldogs obliterated the next-closest competition in league play thus far, as they won their two meetings against BYU by a combined 59 points. Since a 14-point neutral court win over Texas Tech on December 18th, the Bulldogs have won by fewer than 23 points on just one other occasion. 

Like every time they meet Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s will try and play this game at a snail’s pace. The Gaels’ 332nd-ranked adjusted tempo is actually quicker than year’s past, but they will be in no mood to make this game a track meet. 

The scary thing about Gonzaga lately, and a big reason for their dominant victories, is that freshman Chet Holgrem is playing more like the potential top pick in the NBA Draft with each passing day. Holmgren has disappeared in some of the team’s biggest games, as he scored 17 combined points in games against Texas, Texas Tech, and Alabama. Holmgren has averaged 18.7 PPG over the last six games and has recorded double-doubles in three of his previous four.

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Saint Mary’s is built similarly to Texas and Texas Tech because they have good size and are founded on a tough and physical brand of man-to-man defense. However, they are not the elite rim-protecting team that the Red Raiders and Longhorns are, as they allow opponents to shoot 52.9% from 2-point range (ranks 70th). Thus, Holmgren should continue to find success working the paint, and he and fellow frontcourt mate Drew Timme are in line for their usual big days.

Over the last three years, the average margin of victory in the first meeting between these teams is 30.7 PPG, while the average margin of victory in their second meeting is 15.3 PPG. Thus, there is something to be said for the adjustments that Gaels head coach Randy Bennett makes from one game to the next. But with this game being played at the Kennel, and with Saint Mary’s not having seen anyone all season as explosive as the Bulldogs, there will likely once again be an adjustment period before their rematch.

Gonzaga is an exceptional 7-1-1 ATS in their nine WCC games this season, and we look for them to cruise to another victory.

Saint Mary's vs. Gonzaga Pick

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Mike Spector brings unmatched knowledge and insight into the game of football, and more importantly the process of betting on NFL football. Mike is the #2 ranked expert in FantasyPros' NFL betting contest

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