Matchup: #10 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Date/Time: November 26, 9:30 p.m. ET
College Basketball Betting Odds From Sportsbook.ag
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are one of the country’s deepest teams and they have shown that through their first four games. The Georgia Bulldogs have won three straight games after falling to in-state rival Georgia Tech to open the season. In a battle of Bulldogs, Gonzaga certainly has the edge as oddsmakers have them as a healthy favorite for this matchup in the Big Apple. It’s the NIT Classic Tip-Off semifinal game at Madison Square Garden, which can be a very tough backdrop for shooters to get used to.
Mark Few has no shortage of talent on his team this season with a couple of key transfers and some returning stars. Not only are the Bulldogs an overwhelming favorite in the West Coast Conference, but this is a team that is capable of making a huge run in the month of March. They have scored 379 points through their first four games of the season and have averaged nearly 23 assists per game. While the level of competition has not been terribly impressive, they did have a convincing 16-point win over a then-ranked SMU Mustangs team.
Six different players have averaged double figures so far this season for Gonzaga, led by freshman Domantas Sabonis from Lithuania. The 6’10” freshman has made 76 percent of his shots so far. Nobody for Gonzaga has averaged more than 25 minutes per game as USC transfer Byron Wesley is the only player at the 25 minute per game plateau. Wesley has been a pretty complete player for the Zags with 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists per contest. Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer has averaged 13 points per game with 5.5 rebounds per game. Holdovers Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos have not been particularly impressive in their minutes, but they haven’t had to be. Gonzaga can have a different hero every night menality and that means a lot during the rigors of the season.
The Georgia Bulldogs made it to the second round of the NIT last season, but lost to Louisiana Tech in the 2 vs. 3 matchup in the second round. They were 20-14 with a 12-6 record in SEC play. Mark Fox did a solid job with the Bulldogs last season as they posted just their second winning season in his five-year tenure. In Fox’s second year, UGA made it to the NCAA Tournament but lost in the second round. Unfortunately for Fox, the Bulldogs continued to struggle against ranked teams. They are just 4-23 in their last 27 against Top 25 opponents and just 2-19 against Top 10 opponents.
The Bulldogs have made a concerted effort to get the ball into the paint more frequently this season. After guards Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines led the team in points per game last season, forwards Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic are atop the points per game column this season. Thornton has averaged 14 points and 7.8 boards per night, while Djurisic has 13.5 points and six boards per night. The wins for Georgia have been more methodical in nature with a lack of efficiency on the offensive end of the floor. That could be a major problem against Gonzaga.
Free College Basketball Picks: Gonzaga Bulldogs
Mark Few won’t say it, but he knows that it’s critically important for his team to play well in the spotlight on the East Coast. For future tournament seeding purposes and the voters, the Bulldogs will be viewed as a team that looks good on paper until they prove what they can do on the floor. That adds an extra element of intrigue to this game as Gonzaga could go a long way in improving their perception with a tournament victory that begins with this win over Georgia.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.