West Regional Semifinals Betting Picks: #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs #4 West Virginia Mountaineers

2017 NCAA Tournament
West Regional Finals
#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs #4 West Virginia Mountaineers
Thursday, March 23, 2017, 7:39 pm Eastern, TV: TBS
SAP Center – San Jose, California
Opening Line: Gonzaga -3
Current Line: Gonzaga -3 (-115)
Opening Total: 147
Current Total: 148 1/2
Opening Money Line: Gonzaga -150 / West Virginia +130
Current Money Line: Gonzaga -165 / West Virginia +145

Big South Tournament
Gonzaga is favored over West Virginia in the Sweet 16 Thursday in San Jose.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have made the NCAA Tournament every year since 1999 and made the Sweet 16 in eight of those seasons. One thing they haven’t done though is make a run to the Final Four while such mid-major teams such as George Mason, VCU, Butler and Wichita State have. That could change this year. The 34-1 Bulldogs are the #1 seed in the West Region and are back in the Sweet 16 for the third straight season. Gonzaga will take on the #4 seed West Virginia Mountaineers Thursday in San Jose. The Mountaineers are 28-8 this season. The winner will face either #2 Arizona or #11 Xavier in the regional final Saturday. Gonzaga leads the series 3-0, including an 80-76 win in 2013. The teams met in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

West Virginia is coached by Bob Huggins. The Mountaineers were tied for second in the Big 12 with Baylor and Iowa State with a 12-6 record. The Mountaineers lost in the Big 12 Championship game to Iowa State 80-74 in Kansas City. West Virginia beat #13 seed Bucknell 86-80 in the first round and #5 seed Notre Dame 83-71 in the second round Saturday both in Buffalo. The Mountaineers are back in the NCAA Tournament for the 28th time and in the Sweet 16 for the 10th time.

West Virginia has neutral site losses to Temple in Brooklyn, and Iowa State in Kansas City, road losses at Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas and Baylor, plus home losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers have home wins over Mount St. Mary’s, Manhattan, Northern Kentucky, TCU, Baylor, Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Kansas State, and Iowa State. WVU has road wins over Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, and TCU, plus neutral site wins over Illinois in Brooklyn, Western Carolina in Charleston, WV, plus Texas and Kansas State in the Big 12 Tournament. The Mountaineers are 14-16-1 ATS and the total is 18-12-1 this season. West Virginia was a three point favorite against Notre Dame and the total was 149.5.

Gonzaga is coached by Mark Few. The Bulldogs won the West Coast Conference regular season title with a 17-1 record and beat rival St, Mary’s 74-56 in the WCC Championship game in Las Vegas. Gonzaga beat #16 seed South Dakota State 66-46 in the first round and #8 Northwestern in the second round Saturday, both in Salt Lake City.

Gonzaga lost at home in the regular season finale to BYU 79-71. The Bulldogs have home wins over San Diego State, Washington, Akron, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, St. Mary’s, Portland, San Diego, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Pacific. Gonzaga has road wins over Pacific, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Portland, Pepperdine, BYU, Loyola Marymount,  St. Mary’s, and San Diego, plus neutral site wins over Quinnipiac, Florida and Iowa State in Orlando, Arizona in Los Angeles, Tennessee in Nashville, plus Pacific, Santa Clara and St. Mary’s in Las Vegas. Gonzaga is 22-9-1 ATS and the total is 16-16 this season. The Bulldogs were 10.5 point favorites against Northwestern and the total was 140.

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West Virginia is outscoring teams 82-67 this season. The Mountaineers are #18 in scoring and #51 in points allowed nationally. West Virginia is shooting 45.9% from the field and 36.7% from 3 point range. WVU makes 68.3% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 42.4% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. West Virginia averages 37.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.7. WVU averages 16.7 assists, 12.3 turnovers, 10.2 steals and 4.7 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.1 assists, 20.1 turnovers, 5.7 steals and 3.9 blocks per game.

Jevon Carter averages 13.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Esa Ahmad averages 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Nathan Adrian averages 9.7 points, 6 rebounds 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Tarik Phillip averages 9.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Daxter Miles, Jr. averages 8.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Five other players get significant time in the rotation. Teyvon Myers is questionable with an ankle injury.

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Gonzaga is outscoring teams 84-61 this season. The Bulldogs are #14 or better in both categories. Gonzaga is shooting 51.2% from the field and 37.4% from 3 point range. The Bulldogs are #2 nationally in field goal percentage. Gonzaga makes 72.7% of their free throws. Bulldog opponents are shooting 36.7% from the field and 29.9% from 3 point range. Gonzaga is #2 nationally in field goal defense and #7 in three point defense. The Bulldogs average 40.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.4 per game. Gonzaga averages 15.6 assists, 11.3 turnovers, 7.1 steals, and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.7 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.

Nigel Williams-Goss averages 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game.  Przemek Karnowski averages 12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Jordan Mathews averages 10.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Zach Collins averages 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Johnathan Williams averages 10 points and 6 rebounds per game. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, and Killian Tillie will also get minutes. Center Jacob Larsen is out for the season with a knee injury.

West Virginia is 2-6 ATS after a cover and against teams with winning records, 1-4 overall, in neutral site games and against WCC teams, 1-5-1 after a straight up win, 1-9-1 as an underdog, and 0-4 as an NCAA Tournament underdog.

Gonzaga is 13-2-1 ATS in Thursday games, 9-2 after failing to cover, 20-6-1 against teams with winning records, 19-6-2 as a favorite of less than 6.5 points, 20-7-1 as a favorite, 19-7-1 after a straight up win, 8-3 against Big 12 teams, 5-2 in non-conference games and as an NCAA Tournament favorite of less than 6.5 points, and 35-15-1 overall.

The West Virginia press can be very difficult to solve if you have never seen it before. People say Gonzaga hasn’t really played anyone this season, but they do have wins over Arizona, Florida and Iowa State on neutral sites, plus St. Mary’s three times all by 18 points or more. They will not be intimidated by playing West Virginia. I like the Bulldogs to escape with a win in a close game.

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