(2) Gonzaga Bulldogs (-17.5, 134 o/u) at Santa Clara Broncos
The second-ranked team in the nation, the Gonzaga Bulldogs (22-1, 10-0 WCC), will look to stay undefeated inside the West Coast Conference when they visit the Santa Clara Broncos (11-12, 5-6 WCC) tonight at the Leavey Center (11:00 p.m. Eastern).
Gonzaga’s only loss this season came in overtime against then-No. 3 Arizona; the Zags have won 15 in a row since then, including ten conference wins and a convincing victory over the American’s Memphis Tigers last time out (82-64).
“It was good for us to just play a different style,” senior guard Kevin Pangos said after the win over Memphis. “I think our team did a good job responding to the matchups and how that team was playing as opposed to a West Coast Conference team.”
The impressive start to the season has the Bulldogs at 14/1 in the March Madness futures, though that number is likely to rise in the coming days and weeks if they can stay perfect in conference play.
The Santa Clara Broncos, meanwhile, have showed promise at times this year, but overall have been inconsistent. The team has solid wins over Washington State and Pepperdine, but has also dropped games to the likes of Portland.
It’s been more of the bad Broncos than the good lately. Santa Clara has lost two straight coming into tonight, including a 21-point shellacking at the hands of BYU in their last game (78-57).
The Broncos have a decent defense (allowing 66.2 PPG), but they don’t have any players over 6’9″, which means they’ll have matchup problems against Zags’ seven-footer Przemek Karnowski.
The native of Poland is coming off a big night against Memphis, scoring 17 points and shooting 4/6 from the floor and 9/12 from the stripe.
“Przem is a load down there. He’s a real load,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. “If he can do it against [Memphis forwards] Shaq [Goodwin] and [Austin] Nichols and guys like that, I mean you can pretty much do it against everybody.”
The Bulldogs are 17.5-point favorites for tonight’s game. Gonzaga has won nine in a row against Santa Clara and 31 of the last 33 meetings in the series. Don’t expect anything other than a double-digit Zags win tonight.
(Photo credit: SD Dirk (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)