Gonzaga is good, but may not be able keep up with St. Mary’s—a team are undefeated in conference play and winners in 14 of their last 15 games. The Gaels have also covered the spread in five of their seven matchups. Meanwhile, the Zags have only covered three times in their last eight.
This game will go a long way toward deciding whether there is a changing of the guard in the West Coast Conference, and the belief here is that it’s happening. This is not a vintage Mark Few team, while Randy Bennett might have his best group in many years at Saint Mary’s.
No. 12 Gonzaga vs. No. 18 St. Mary’s
Game Info: Feb. 4, 2023 | 10:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Gonzaga Straight-Up Record: 19-4 (8-1 WCC)
Gonzaga Against The Spread Record: 7-15
St. Mary’s Straight-Up Record: 20-4 (9-0 WCC)
St. Mary’s Against The Spread Record: 15-8
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Zags' big man Drew Timme has less supporting cast than the past two seasons, and opponents have continued to get better at defending his assortment of post moves. He’s shooting career lows from the three-point line (just 11.1 percent, hasn’t made one in 2023) and the foul line (59 percent). Julian Strawther, Anton Watson, Rasir Bolton and Nolan Hickman are fine players, but they’re not the NBA-level sidekick Timme enjoyed in Jalen Suggs and Chet Holmgren.
For the Gaels, freshman guard Aidan Mahaney has been a revelation. Bennett does a lot of his recruiting internationally but made a great pickup of a kid whose hometown is five miles from campus. Mahaney’s 14.8 points per game lead a balanced team with four players averaging 12 or more. Center Mitchell Saxen gives Saint Mary’s its customary big body to battle Gonzaga’s eternal interior size.
BET: Saint Mary’s
*No selection on North Carolina at Duke since I’m covering the game. But here is an advance story on a rivalry that is battling a hangover.