Top 25 College Basketball Picks for Monday March 6th
It’s tournament week! We’ve already had some tournaments kick off and champions crowned (here’s looking at you Wichita State) but now the conference tournaments start to kick off in earnest which means just one more week until the NCAA tournament starts.
Conference tournaments are much different than the regular season. The win or go home aspect is a huge determining factor in who wins or loses and underdogs get an extra boost. Teams are also (for the most part) playing at neutral sites so home-court advantage goes out the window.
There’s nothing better than college basketball in March and there’s some serious money to be made which is why we’re here to break down as many games as possible so you stay informed each time you bet. Let’s get to it!
Santa Clara Broncos at #4 Gonzaga Bulldogs
- Santa Clara (n/a) at Gonzaga (n/a)
Speaking of conference tournaments that are already underway how about the West Coast tournament that kicked off this week and graces us with two semi final games today. Santa Clara visits Gonzaga in the first game with both teams dealing with some injury concerns when they tip off in Las Vegas.
The Bulldogs were graced with the return of forwards Killian Tillie after he missed the last three weeks with a hand injury due to a broken finder. While Gonzaga was thrilled to have him back it seemed to come at a cost as Gonzaga is likely to be without Josh Perkins who injured his ankle halfway through his game on Saturday and never made it back on the court.
Santa Clara on the other hand was without KJ Feagin on Saturday who is their leading scorer with 14.6 points per game. He was diagnosed with a concussion earlier in the week after a hard collision in practice and is questionable to play against the Bulldogs.
It’s a huge loss for the Broncos if he can’t go as Santa Clara is playing in the West Coast semifinals for the first time since 2011 when they lost to the Saint Mary’s Gaels. The Bulldogs are wily veterans when it comes to the tournament and an injury or two is unlikely to slow them down. Gonzaga has been to the finals of the WCC 22 times and won it all on 15 separate occasions.
The Bulldogs haven’t looked quite like their dominant self as of late though after struggling early against Pacific and losing to BYU in a shocker at the end of the season. Luckily for Gonzaga they’ve dominated Santa Clara with 38 wins in their last 40 meetings with 14 straight highlighting that mark.
Nigel Williams-Goss against Matt Hauser. Regardless of who ends up playing for each time the reality remains that the ball still needs to be passed to create some open looks. That’s where both these players come in. Each leads their team in assists per game and with question marks surrounding the health of their teammates they’ll need to be creative in finding looks. Whoever can dictate the offense better may come out on top.
As shaky as Gonzaga has looked over the last few weeks their only real competition this season has been themselves. They know how important a tournament title is to their seeding for March and their school pride so we expect them to come out and make quick work of a Broncos team that is hurting. Take Gonzaga on the spread.
BYU Cougars at #20 Saint Mary’s Gaels
- BYU (n/a) at Saint Mary’s
The Cougars may be shocked to see themselves in the West Coast Conference semi final game but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re here and ready to go. BYU may be inexperienced but have a real shot at knocking off the Gaels (who happen to be ranked #20 in the country) and making their way to the conference finals.
Ranked third in the tournament, BYU ranked 351 out of 355 teams hen it comes to experience but have won six of their last seven including one of the biggest upsets of the season when they knocked off then number 1 ranked Gonzaga at the end of February.
Making things crazier for the Cougars is their lack of depth. BYU pulled off an 89-81 victory over Loyola Marymount despite their bench chipping in with one (yes one!) point. The Gaels won both games against the Cougars this season but it’s a different BYU team that’s taking the court on Monday night.
The Gaels could never get by Gonzaga during the regular season but a win against the Cougars would thrust them back into the National spotlight for a West Coast final against (likely) Gonzaga. They’re injury free and ready to go on Monday night and have been a well balanced team all season long. They’re first in six separate categories as a team in the WCC this season including free throw percentage, rebounding margin, assists per game, three point percentage, and assist-to-turnover ratio.
They also have some serious star power in the conference in Joe Rahon and Jock Landale who were both all-conference selections at the end of the regular season. Landale hasn’t been “just WCC good” either. His 13 double doubles rank 26th in the country and he’s capable of playing with anyone.
He’ll need to bring his A Game with the way BYU is scoring points. The Cougars just dropped 87 points against the Lions and are capable of filling up the scoreboard if they can keep connecting from deep.
Jock Landale against Nick Emery. Landale has carried this Gaels team all season long and it will be no exception when he runs into a suddenly hot BYU squad. He’s not just a scorer with 9.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks and will be responsible to try and help lock down Emery who just connected for four three pointers in his last game. Emery also averages 1.7 steals a game and will be a pest on Landale all night.
BYU is playing on borrowed time and a combination of good fortune and some excellent timely play has them situated for a run at the finals. With that in mind, the Gaels have done this a few times before and know what it takes to get to the big dance. Take Saint Mary’s on the spread.