Gonzaga vs. St Mary’s NCAAM Preview and Pick
It’s March, which can only mean one thing: it’s college basketball’s time to shine. Conference tournaments have gotten underway all over the country already. The West Coast Conference Final goes down tonight in Las Vegas with the two top seeds in the conference squaring off. Fourth-ranked Gonzaga will take on No. 19 St. Mary’s as both teams seek to earn the WCC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
What should we watch for in this one?
#19 St. Mary’s Gaels vs. #4 Gonzaga Bulldogs
- St. Mary’s (+5 ½) vs. Gonzaga (-5 ½)
The Gaels proved to be fairly tough opponents for the Bulldogs during their two regular season meetings, but ultimately came up short. Gonzaga beat St. Mary’s 84-74 in their first matchup before earning a more lopsided 79-56 win when they met in Spokane back in mid-January.
Gonzaga is coming off a 77-68 win over Santa Clara in the semifinals on Monday night, while St. Mary’s crushed BYU 81-50. Considering BYU was the only team to topple Gonzaga all season long, such a resounding win should give the Gaels some serious confidence as they face the Bulldogs for a third time.
Gonzaga will be looking to win its 16th tournament championship overall and will stretch their streak of consecutive WCC tourney titles to five with a win in this one. St. Mary’s is seeking its fourth conference tournament championship. They last claimed the crown in 2012 when current NBA player Matthew Dellavedova led the Gaels to a 78-74 overtime win over the Bulldogs in the final.
- Przemek Karnowski vs. Jock Landale
One area in which St. Mary’s has struggled against the Zags this season has been down low. 7’1” behemoth Przemek Karnowski has been a handful for opponents on the block all year long. The Polish senior is coming off a stellar effort in the aforementioned win over Santa Clara, as he scored 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes of work.
Jock Landale is a big body himself, but his 255-pound frame looks almost flimsy next to the 300-pound Karnowski. Still, the Gaels will have to work the offense through Landale if they want to stick with Gonzaga in this one. The junior was stellar in the first meeting with the Bulldogs this season, posting 24 points with eight rebounds in the defeat. He struggled in Spokane, though, scoring just 10 points on his way to fouling out.
Landale has posted back-to-back double-doubles in the first two rounds of the WCC tourney, and he’ll have to be on top of his game for St. Mary’s to have a shot at the upset tonight.
While the Zags haven’t exactly been in the finest of form in the last few weeks, they still have too much firepower for the Gaels to deal with. The combination of Karnowski, Nick Williams and potential future lottery pick Zach Collins off the bench gives Gonzaga a talented trio that St. Mary’s will struggle to hold down.
While St. Mary’s will come into this one supremely confident, this is a Gonzaga team that blew its way through the West Coast Conference all season long. The Bulldogs will easily cover the rather small 5.5 point spread in this one.