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WCC Title Game College Basketball Monday

SAINT MARY'S GAELS (27-5) vs. GONZAGA BULLDOGS (30-2) Line & Total: Gonzaga -5.5 & 137

Winners of 13 in a row, No. 1 Gonzaga will face Saint Mary's in the finals of the WCC Tournament on Monday night.

Gonzaga hasn't dropped a game to a WCC opponent this year, going 17-0 SU (9-6-2 ATS), and beating these conference foes by an average of 19.4 PPG. The Bulldogs were unable to cover the 21-point spread in Saturday's semifinal win over Loyola Marymount, leading by just one point at halftime before blowing the game open and prevailing 66-48. The Gaels also tore through the conference, going 15-2 SU, but were even ATS at 8-8-1. Both WCC losses were to Gonzaga, which is the only team to beat SMC since Christmas. The Gaels covered in Spokane on Jan. 10, losing by just five as nine-point underdogs, but were clobbered by 17 at home on Valentine's Day. Saint Mary's needed overtime to squeak past San Diego 69-66 in the WCC semifinals, failing to cover as a 15-point favorite. These two teams are meeting in the conference championship game for the fifth straight season, splitting the four matchups with two titles apiece. The first three of those contests were decided by 12+ points, but the rivals played a thriller last year with Saint Mary's pulling out a 78-74 win in overtime. Overall, the Gaels have struggled on neutral courts this year, going 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS. Gonzaga, by contrast, is 5-0 SU and 3-2 ATS. And the Bulldogs aren't No. 1 in the nation by accident, ranking third in the nation in FG Pct. (50.3%) and holding opponents to a pithy 38.2% FG. And it doesn't help the Gaels that they're playing on short rest, as they're 1-6-1 ATS this season with less than two days of rest. But the Zags are just 3-6 ATS with one day off in between games, and neutral-court teams revenging a double-digit loss versus an opponent after three straight conference wins, are an impressive 40-14 ATS (74%) in the past five seasons.

SMC senior PG Matthew Dellavedova (16.2 PPG, 6.4 APG) is the heart and soul of the Gaels offense and is coming off a 12-assist performance on Saturday to make up for his dismal 2-for-12 shooting. He hasn't shot well against Gonzaga this season either, going 11-of-30 (37%) from the field with nine assists and six turnovers. But Dellavedova led his team with 22 points (and seven turnovers) in last season's WCC title game victory over Gonzaga. He is joined in the backcourt by SG Stephen Holt (11.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG) who also struggled against San Diego, going 1-for-7 from the floor and finishing with just three points in 42 minutes of action. But Holt has been stellar against the Zags this season with 20.0 PPG on 57% FG. Six-foot-9 F Brad Waldow (10.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG) paces the team down low, but cedes a significant size advantage to Gonzaga's big men. But if he plays anything like he did Saturday-going for 23 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks-Saint Mary's will be in great shape. Fellow forward Beau Levesque (10.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG) also stepped up in that game, going for 19 points and six boards before fouling out. At 6-foot-6, he is also undersized, but makes up for it with his shooting accuracy, hitting 47% of his three-pointers this season.

Gonzaga is led by 7-foot C Kelly Olynyk (17.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG), who puts up big stats despite playing just 25.5 MPG. Olynyk has a strong jump shot (38% threes) and although he isn't just a scorer on the block, he's still hitting 66% FG for the season. Olynyk carried the Bulldogs to victory at home versus the Gaels, going for 31 points (11-of-19 FG) and eight rebounds, then added 17 points (6-of-13 FG) and seven boards in the Valentine's Day blowout at Saint Mary's. He's joined in the frontcourt by PF Elias Harris (14.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG), who is averaging 20.5 PPG and 8.5 RPG in two March games. He was just 2-for-8 from the floor in the most recent meeting with SMC, but was the Zags best performer in last year's WCC Championship, scoring 22 points (10-of-14 FG) with 13 rebounds and two steals. When the star frontcourt players need a breather, freshman C Przemek Karnowski (5.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG) can push guys around too with his 7-foot-1, 305-pound frame. SG Kevin Pangos (11.8 PPG, 3.2 APG) and PG David Stockton (3.7 PPG, 3.3 APG) are the key to the Bulldog backcourt. Pangos is a strong shooter, hitting 43% from three-point range while Stockton is a solid floor general (2.59 Ast/TO ratio) and defender (1.6 SPG). Swingman Gary Bell Jr. (9.2 PPG) scored a season-high 20 points when the Zags won big at Saint Mary's last month. If this trio can get the ball to Olynyk to exploit his height advantage, Mark Few should be able to walk away with another WCC Tournament trophy.

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