San Francisco vs. Gonzaga Expert Pick and Prediction – January 25, 2024
SAN FRANCISCO VS. GONZAGA EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – January 25, 2024 — It’s officially time for Gonzaga to worry. Even typing that sentence sounds bizarre, given that we’ve been able to write the Bulldogs in for Selection Sunday every year since 1999. But the hard reality is that if the season ended today, Gonzaga would not make the tournament.
Part of that isn’t the Bulldogs’ fault. They ended up on the wrong side of the bracket at the Maui Invitational and only emerged with wins over Syracuse and UCLA, both of whom have proven to be middling at best. Losses to Connecticut, San Diego State and Purdue meant the Bulldogs ended up with no signature wins, which becomes a problem when the West Coast Conference isn’t perceived as a top league.
And the problem compounds this season, because perception is not reality. The West Coast Conference does have some good teams this year, and San Francisco is one of them. The Dons aren’t quite as strong as two years ago, when they made the WCC a three-bid league, but they’re still pretty good and could cause some real problems for the Bulldogs.
And that’s why Gonzaga has to worry: San Francisco’s good enough to provide a tough out, but not good enough where a loss wouldn’t damage the profile. These are the games Gonzaga didn’t have to worry about for decades, but not this year.
(15-5 SU, 13-6 ATS)
(13-5 SU, 8-9 ATS)
When: Thursday, January 25 at 9 p.m. EST
Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Wash.
Public Bets: 58% on Gonzaga
Public Money: Unavailable
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 24th, 2024.
San Francisco vs. Gonzaga In-Season Trends
Does Gonzaga recognize the danger, or is the Bulldogs’ recent slew of covers a matter of getting to beat up on San Diego and Pepperdine? Thanks to a quirk of scheduling, four of the Bulldogs’ five games in the WCC have come against the Toreros and the Waves, neither of whom will come anywhere near the tournament this season.
The argument appears to be for the latter. Gonzaga has failed to cover in six straight games against opponents not named San Diego or Pepperdine. That’s run the gamut from potential top seed Connecticut to Mississippi Valley State, which might be the nation’s worst team.
San Francisco has proven a much sharper play, as have San Francisco overs. The Dons have gone 7-2 ATS in their past nine games, and they’ve done it by hitting the gas. The over has gone 7-0-1 in the Dons’ past eight, even though San Francisco only scored 60 against Saint Mary’s lockdown defense.
San Francisco prefers a slower pace, but you’d never know it by the Dons’ WCC results: the four overs have all exceeded the total by at least eight points.
Graham Ike can score anywhere inside 15 feet, and that’s problematic for San Francisco. The Dons don’t defend the mid-range shot well, which opens the door for Ike to have a big day. San Francisco doesn’t give up a lot of second-chance points, but it also hasn’t faced a team that rebounds as well as Gonzaga does.
Related: Angell’s Sports Analysis for Jan. 25
The Dons aren’t completely helpless in the paint. They have some power in Jonathan Mogbo, who’s been a walking double-double since the calendar flipped to 2024. He hasn’t faced Gonzaga before, as he transferred to San Francisco from Missouri State. How he handles Ike will go a long way toward deciding if the Dons can hang around.
I’m not buying that the balance of power has completely swung away from Gonzaga. The Dons have improved, but they’re not yet up to the level of winning in Spokane.
The Bulldogs have to make a statement, and they have the ability to do it down low. San Francisco has dropped its past five in the Kennel by double digits, and that’s probably what’s going to happen again here. Given the rebounding ability on Gonzaga’s side, I’m throwing on the under.