Gonzaga and St. Mary’s Meet in Key WCC Showdown

Gonzaga Bulldogs at St. Mary’s Gaels, McKeon Pavilion, Moraga, CA
Thursday, February 24, 2011, 11:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: St. Mary’s -3
Current Line: St. Mary’s -4
Opening Total: 147
Current Total: 145 1/2
Money Line: St. Mary’s -175 / Gonzaga +155

Elias Harris and the Zags are 4 point underdogs on the road against the St. Mary's Gaels in a game that will decide the WCC regular season title.

Gonzaga has made the NCAA tournament every year since 1999. That streak is in jeopardy this year as Gonzaga is firmly on the bubble. A win over a St. Mary’s team that was ranked in the top 25 for much of the year until this week would go a long way towards getting Gonzaga in without having to win the WCC tournament next week in Las Vegas. The two teams played in Spokane January 27, and St. Mary’s escaped with a narrow 73-71 win. The loss was part of a 3 game losing streak for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have gone 6-1 since then the only loss being a 62-58 loss to Memphis in Spokane February 5. They have won 4 straight since then including a 70-53 home win over San Francisco Saturday. Gonzaga is 19-9 overall and 9-3 in conference. The Bulldogs have wins over Marquette, Baylor, Xavier, Oklahoma St. Wake Forest, Portland twice, Pepperdine twice, Loyola Marymount twice, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara. Gonzaga has losses to San Diego St, Kansas St, Illinois, Washington St, Notre Dame, Santa Clara, and San Francisco in addition to the St. Mary’s and Memphis  losses. St. Mary’s was in the top 25 until a two game losing streak to San Diego 74-66 and Utah St 75-65 dropped them out of the rankings this week. They had won four in a row before then. St. Mary’s is 22-6 overall and 10-2 in the WCC. The Gaels have wins over St. John’s, Texas Tech, Long Beach St, New Mexico St, Mississippi St, Loyola Marymount twice, Pepperdine twice, San Francisco twice, Santa Clara twice, and San Diego, in addition to the Gonzaga win. The Gaels have additional losses to BYU, San Diego St, Vanderbilt, and Portland.

Gonzaga leads the series 11-5 since 2005 but St. Mary’s has won the last two meetings. In the game earlier in the season, St. Mary’s guard Mickey McConnell hit the game winner for the Gaels in the 73-71 victory. St, Mary’s also beat Gonzaga in last year’s WCC Championship game. Gonzaga has won 5 of the last 7 in the series, but St. Mary’s is 4-3 ATS in those meetings. Four of the last 6 have gone under the total. St. Mary’s is 22-6 after a non conference game over the last two seasons.

Gonzaga has no significant injuries right now. The Bulldogs are led by guard Steven Grey. Grey is averaging 14.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.7 steals a game. Grey leads the team in scoring, assists, and steals. Center Robert Sacre averages 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 2 blocks a game. He leads the team in blocks and rebounds. Forward Elias Harris averages 11.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Gonzaga is outscoring opponents 76-66 on the season. The Zags are shooting 47.7% from the field and 37.2% from 3-point range. Gonzaga opponents are shooting 39.9% from the field. The Bulldoigs make 74.2% of their free throws. Gonzaga averages 37.6 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +5.7. Gonzaga averages 15.7 assists and 13.9 turnovers a game. They force 14.6 turnovers a game on defense. The Bulldogs average 7.3 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 16.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. He leads the team in scoring and assists, and is shooting 48% from 3-point range. Forward Rob Jones averages 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1 steal a game. He leads the team in rebounds. Matthew Dellavedova averages 12.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.4 steals a game to lead the team. Mitchell Young averages 10.4 points, and 5 rebounds a game. Kenton Walker II leads the team in blocks with 1 a game. The Gaels are outscoring opponents 80-65 on the season. They are shooting 49.1% from the field and 38.8% from 3-point range. St. Mary’s opponents are shooting 43.5% from the field. The Gaels make 75.1% from the free throw line. SMC averages 35.5 rebounds a game and has a rebounding margin of +5.2. The Gaels average 17.1 assists and 11.6 turnovers a game. The Gaels force 13.8 turnovers a game on defense. They average 7 steals and 3.5 blocks a game.

This should be a great game that both teams need badly. I expect these two teams will meet again in the WCC championship game in Vegas in a couple of weeks,a s they are clearly the class of the league.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot in 2011. Don’t miss out on any more winners this season.

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