Despite both schools already shoo-ins for an at-large bid come Selection Sunday, tonight’s WCC Championship between No. 9 Gonzaga (-2.5) and No. 16 Saint Mary’s qualifies as a must-watch rubber match (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN). Saint Mary’s handed the ‘Zags their fifth loss of the season in a come-from-behind 78-70 overtime victory on Feb. 4, but Gonzaga returned the favor in Spokane, taking down the Gaels 77-68 to claim a share of the league’s regular-season title. 

The two rivals meet for a third time, now at a neutral site, to decide who the ’23 WCC champion really is. We’ve broken the matchup down for those looking to make a bet on Tuesday night’s championship and provided our best bets on the side and the total.

 Odds courtesy of BetMGM

No. 9 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Saint Mary’s WCC Championship odds, picks, best bets

  • Spread: Gonzaga -2.5 (-110); Saint Mary’s +2.5 (-110)
  • Over/Under: OVER 138.5 (-110); UNDER 138.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Gonzaga -150; Saint Mary’s +125

While KenPom’s ratings have Saint Mary’s as a one-point neutral site favorite due to the Gaels sporting a higher overall adjusted efficiency margin, Gonzaga currently sits as short -2.5 favorites on BetMGM. Some of that has to do with Gonzaga’s name brand playing a part in their pricing as the favorite, but the ‘Zags also played a nearly perfect game against the Gaels in their second meeting and found a way to exploit them.

For starters, Gonzaga’s ball-screen defense was close to flawless, consistently icing ball screens involving the Gaels’ go-to scoring option, Aidan Mahaney (14.7 PPG, 44.1 FG%). Gonzaga center Drew Timme did his part in helping take the Gaels’ leading scorer out of the game, flashing out to the perimeter to force Mahaney to give up the ball against a double team. After icing the ball screen, Timme recovered back to the paint in time to finish out defensive possessions, forcing the Gaels’ other options to consistently beat them.

The Zags held Mahaney, the first-team All-WCC selection, to zero first-half points, a major reason why Gonzaga held a 39-26 halftime lead. While they kept Mahaney in check, Gonzaga did struggle to contain fellow first-team All-WCC selection Logan Johnson, as Johnson scored a game-high 27 points on seven-of-12 shooting from the field. Gonzaga iced ball screens involving Johnson, but he didn’t care about a second defender, consistently putting his head down and getting to the basket. We’ll see if Johnson can replicate that outing tonight, as there’s a chance he doesn’t shoot at a high clip in tonight’s rubber match given he’ll have to work extra hard to get his. 

On the offensive end of the floor in their last meeting, Gonzaga found a way to connect on 63.2 percent of their two points shots (24-of-38) against a Saint Mary’s defense that ranks 14th in D-1 in defensive two-point rate (45.2 percent). Frontcourt pieces Anton Watson (17 points, seven-of-11 shooting) and Timme (19 points, seven-of-11 shooting) were two of the Zags’ most efficient scorers on Feb. 25. Watson was particularly effective off the short roll while Timme did his thing as an elite back-to-the-basket scorer.

While the Gaels are going to make the Bulldogs execute their offensive in the half court, limiting their transition game, Gonzaga’s a perennial Final Four contender due to its ability to win in a multitude of ways. It might not be exactly how Mark Few wants his offense to run, but Gonzaga’s ability to get to their spots more effortlessly in the halfcourt likely results in a WCC Championship for the Bulldogs. Timme’s also five points away from becoming the Bulldogs’ all-time leading scorer, and the senior center will break the scoring record while his school retains bragging rights for the time being.

Best Bets: Gonzaga -2.5 -110; OVER 138.5

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