Gonzaga and St. Mary’s Battle for West Coast Championship in Las Vegas

West Coast Conference Championship
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs St. Mary’s Gaels, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Monday, March 7, 2011, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Gonzaga -2
Current Line: Gonzaga -2
Opening Total: 142 1/2
Current Total: 144 1/2
Money Line: Gonzaga -130 / St. Mary’s +110

West Coast Conference Tournament
Elias Harris and the Zags are 2 point favorites over arch-rival St. Mary's in the WCC Championship game in Las Vegas

Gonzaga and St. Mary’s have long been the class of the West Coast Conference. They meet for the 78th time tonight and this time the winner clinches a ticket to next week’s NCAA tournament. The loser will be left at the fickle mercy of the selection committee. Both will probably get in regardless of what happens here but you never know what will happen if you lose. Gonzaga is 23-9 overall and 11-3 in the conference. St. Mary’s is 24-7 overall and alos 11-3 in conference. The two teams shared the WCC regualr season crown and split the season series with each winnign on the other’s home court. St. Mary’s won in Spokane 73-71 January 27. Gonzaga won in Moraga February 24 89-85 in overtime. Ironically, each team’s win was part of a 3 game losing streak for the other team. Gonzaga has been red hot down the stretch winning 8 in a row. Last night they escaped with a 71-67 win over San Francisco in the semifinals. The Dons stole ball with less than 10 seconds left and had a chance to win or tie before calling a timeout they didn’t have. Gonzaga converted the technical free throws to seal the victory. St. Mary’s has struggled down the stretch going 2-3 in their last 5 games. They have won 2 in a row including a 73-64 victory over Santa Clara in the semfinals. Santa Clara hung around but never really threatened the Gaels. Both Gonzaga and St. Mary’s received byes into the semifinals.

Gonzaga leads the overall series 52-25 against St. Mary’s. they have won 27 of the last 32 in the series. St. Mary’s beat them last year in the WCC Championship game. The Gaels ended up going all the way to the Sweet 16 before losing to Baylor last year. Gonzaga is 6-2 straight up in the last 8 games in the series but the teams are 4-4 ATS in those meetings. The under has gone 4-3-1 in those meetings as well.

Gonzaga has no significant injuries right now. The Bulldogs are led by guard Steven Grey. Grey is averaging 13.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.7 steals a game. Grey leads the team in scoring, assists, and steals. Center Robert Sacre averages 12.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.8 blocks a game. He leads the team in blocks and rebounds. Forward Elias Harris averages 12.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. Gonzaga is outscoring opponents 77-65 on the season. The Zags are shooting 48.1% from the field and 36.9% from 3-point range. Gonzaga opponents are shooting 39.6% from the field. The Bulldoigs make 75.4% of their free throws. Gonzaga averages 37.7 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +6.2. Gonzaga averages 15.7 assists and 13.7 turnovers a game. They force 14.8 turnovers a game on defense. The Bulldogs average 7.4 steals and 3.8 blocks a game.

St. Mary’s guard  Jorden Page is out for the season with a knee injury. He only played in 7 games for the Gaels. Guard Mickey McConnell averages 16.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. He leads the team in scoring and assists, and is shooting 46.9% from 3-point range. Forward Rob Jones averages 13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1 steal a game. He leads the team in rebounds. Matthew Dellavedova averages 13.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. Mitchell Young averages 10.4 points, and 5.1 rebounds a game. Kenton Walker II leads the team in blocks with 1 a game. Stephen Holt leads the team in steals with 1.7 a game.  The Gaels are outscoring opponents 80-66 on the season. They are shooting 49% from the field and 39.1% from 3-point range. St. Mary’s opponents are shooting 44% from the field. The Gaels make 75.1% from the free throw line. SMC averages 35.1 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +4.8. The Gaels average 17 assists and 11.5 turnovers a game. The Gaels force 13.6 turnovers a game on defense. They average 7.1 steals and 3.4 blocks a game.

As hot as Gonzaga has been to end the season, this is still a very tough game. These two teams dislike each other a lot and always play close hard fought games. This game will be no different. Expect both teams to leave it all on the court.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot in 2011 as post-season play begins. Don’t miss out on any mroe winners from now until they cut down the nets in Houston next month.   

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