Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM
NCAA Basketball Best Bet for Tuesday March 10, 2020 - WCC
As NCAA Tournament bids are starting to get punched all across the country, the West Coast Conference will make another one official tonight. However, there isn't really any question that both Gonzaga and St Mary's will be two of the teams in the field of 68, so the same urgency that other smaller conferences have just won't be there tonight.
That being said, there is still plenty of bad blood in this Gonzaga/St Mary's rivalry, as these two programs have been the cream of the crop in this conference for years. You have to go all the way back to 2008 to find the last time one of these two schools DIDN'T claim the WCC Tournament title, and last year, it was an underdog St Mary's team that walked away with a 60-47 win over Gonzaga in this game.
Will history repeat, or will Gonzaga reclaim their dominance and protect their seeding at/near the top for the upcoming NCAA Tournament?
St. Mary's vs Gonzaga
Betting Odds: Gonzaga -9, Over/Under 143
Date: March 10, 2020
TV/Time: ESPN, 9:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Orleans Arena
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Last year's win by St. Mary's in this game was very impressive, but I can't help but be a little skeptical about those victories in these smaller conferences. I say that because these smaller conferences know that the more teams they get into the NCAA Tournament, the better the future prospects for the conference become – more money, more ad revenue, more exposure etc – and when you've got a team like Gonzaga that's for sure in the NCAA tournament, the prospect of “laying down” for the good of the entire conference has to be considered.
I mean, look at what happened in the Mountain West this year where likely bubble team Utah State made it to the finals against a no doubt entry in San Diego State, and it was the Utah State Aggies that won to ensure at least two programs in the NCAA tournament from that conference. That's a huge boost for the Mountain West, and while it may be too skeptical of an outlook, I do think it's something bettors have to be cognizant about.
|Gonzaga looks to win the WCC title with a victory over St. Mary's. (AP)|
Thankfully, that's not the case for this year's WCC Championship game, which to me means it's got to be all about Gonzaga establishing their dominance again.
Gonzaga won both regular season meetings with the Gaels by at least 10 points, and while they were only 1-1 ATS in those games, with tonight's spread sitting at single digits still, those past margin of victories need to be taken note of.
There is no arguing that the Zags are by far the better team, and given that these two played 10 days ago in the regular season finale, the competitive juices will be flowing for sure tonight. But the Zags have looked far from their best in their last two outings, and it's about time they send a message to the rest of the country that they are ready to make another deep run in this year's NCAA tournament.
The Gaels didn't play particularly well themselves last night in a grinding 51-50 win over BYU. Jordan Ford knocked down a shot with one second left to grab that victory for the Gaels, and with it, securing any potential question about whether or not they should be in the NCAA field.
Getting in that field is about as big of a motivator as it gets for players at this stage of the season, and with that goal now accomplished, you've got to wonder what St Mary's has left in the tank for tonight.
Last year, the Gaels needed to win this game to get into the field of 68 and they did just that, as 15-point underdogs no less. This year, with the pressure and urgency off, a loss by 15+ points is what I see in the cards for the Gaels, as they just don't have the scoring talent to keep up with Gonzaga from top to bottom. Gonzaga shot at least 59% or better from the field in those two double digit wins over St Mary's this year, and I don't see that changing much tonight.
Finally, in these title games where you've got one side off an ATS win and the other off an ATS loss, it's the latter that I do tend to side with. Call it a gut feel with that formula or whatever you'd like, but in general, the team off the ATS loss is going to typically be looked at in a more negative light from the market because of that recent ATS defeat and it tends to show up either in the market betting percentages and/or the actual point spread.
Given that Gonzaga won both meeting by double digits and this spread is lower then that, it's quite easy to argue the latter, and you can also likely envision plenty of market support for St Mary's and all those points tonight. And if you've read my stuff across any and all sports on the site prior, you'll know my feelings on backing 'public dogs.'
Whether or not Gonzaga 'laid down' against St. Mary's in this game a year ago for the greater good of the conference we will never know, but with no broader WCC Conference goals in play here, this is the game where Gonzaga gets to exact their revenge and run roughshod over the Gaels.
Gonzaga wins this by 15+.