St. Mary's vs. Gonzaga -5 O/U 133.5
Gonzaga and St. Mary's hook up tonight for the West Coast Conference Championship at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Both teams had an easy go of it en route to the finals, particularly the Gaels who won by margins of 23 and 31. Tonight serves as a far tougher task however as Gonzaga's size, length, and athleticism gave St. Mary's a ton of problems in the two regular season meetings. The Zags won and covered both games by simply owning the paint. Combined, Gonzaga shot 49-of-77, 64% from 2-point range compared to 37-of-86, 43% for St. Mary's. The Zags also unsurprisingly shot 14 more free throws. And the one advantage St. Mary's was supposed to have -- 3-point shooting -- never panned out as Gonzaga shot a combined 10-of-21, 48% while St. Mary's hit on only 10-of-31, 32%. All told, Gonzaga scored 153 points on 124 possessions which comes out to 1.23 points per possession; a mark that is actually higher than their season average in WCC play. And while it looks impressive that the Gaels have routinely held teams in the 50's, note that Gonzaga's stop unit is over 5 ppg better based on a 65 possession game in league play compared to St. Mary's. The only way the Gaels neutralize Gonzaga's advantage in the paint is get hot from the outside which they are obviously capable of doing with a team average of nearly 40%. But over the course of 40 minutes, I'm much for inclined to take the team that can not only get but connect on high percentage shots. Gonzaga proved that in the first two meetings and should be able to do so again tonight.