BYU vs. Gonzaga NCAA Basketball Betting Analysis and Free Pick

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Gideon George #5 of the BYU Cougars. Darryl Oumi/Getty Images/AFP.

Thursday night serves up a West Coast Conference showdown as two of the four teams still unbeaten in conference play clash. The BYU Cougars head to Gonzaga to face the No. 2 Bulldogs. Which way to lean at the top-rated sportsbooks? Let’s break down the NCAAB odds for this game!

BYU will look to finish the job this time around. The Cougars led Gonzaga by as many as 14 in last season’s WCC Championship game before the Zags came storming back to win and continue their unbeaten run, which ended one game short of the national title.

BYU Cougars vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Thursday, January 13, 2022 – 11:00 PM EST at McCarthey Athletic Center

BYU has won four straight and is 14-3, 2-0 in the WCC. The Cougars have lost at Utah Valley in overtime, by 12 to Creighton, and by 2 to Vanderbilt. They already have three true road wins this season, including at Utah.

Gonzaga is 12-2, 1-0 in conference, and has won five straight. The Zags had two losses in three games prior to the current winning streak, losing to Duke by 3 and Alabama by 9, both on neutral sites. They hold wins over Texas, UCLA, and Texas Tech this season.

Ready to Break Through

BYU will be motivated to get the win over Gonzaga. The comeback in the conference title game last season was just the latest in a string of futility for the Cougars. Gonzaga has won eight of the last nine against BYU, and the Cougars haven’t won at Gonzaga since 2017.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few knows the Cougars will be fired up to face his team.

“They always just play crazy, crazy hard and they come at you with a multitude of guys and play with great confidence,” he said. “They’ll pull guys off the bench you haven’t seen in a while and the first time they touch it, they’ll shoot it and usually goes in,”

BYU will lean on its defense. It has held its first two WCC opponents to 51 and 43 points, and the Cougars rank near the top of the nation in defensive efficiency (No. 18), effective shooting defense (No. 9), three-point defense (No. 5), two-point defense (No. 35), and offensive rebounding rate (No. 48).

BYU is also loaded with experience. The top eight players in the rotation include two seniors, three juniors, and a grad transfer. Senior guard Alex Barcello leads the way with 16.6 ppg and a three-point percentage over 46.

In addition to Milwaukee transfer Te'Jon Lucas, who leads the team in assists, BYU has a pair of freshman contributors in 6-foot-6 Fousseyni Traore and 6-foot-9 Atiki Ally Atiki.

Everyone’s Target

Gonzaga has gone from being the mid-major darling to the hunted, after last season’s unbeaten run to the title game. Now, conference affiliation aside, the Zags are one of the big boys, meaning they’re used to being every opponent’s Super Bowl. A motivated BYU team won’t be any different.

“It’s just the chase. It’s not just us. It’s every team in college basketball that’s chasing Gonzaga,” BYU coach Mark Pope admitted. “Kentucky is chasing Gonzaga. North Carolina is chasing Gonzaga. Duke is chasing Gonzaga. Everybody is chasing Gonzaga."

The Bulldogs are loaded once again, featuring All-American and player of the year candidate Drew Timme, who is averaging 16.8 ppg, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Gonzaga also brought in the nation’s top freshman in 7-foot-1 Chet Holmgren, who is putting up 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists.

Gonzaga showed little sign of rust the last time out, blowing out Pepperdine by 34 after an 11-day break. And, as good as BYU’s defense is, Gonzaga ranks higher than the Cougars in efficiency, two-point defense, and rebounding rate.

The Pick

It promises to be a defensive struggle, with two of the best teams in the nation on that side of the floor squaring off. Neither team slows things down significantly, so it won’t degenerate into a rock fight, but points will still be hard to come by. For your college basketball picks, look for Gonzaga to escape, but it will be closer than expected against a familiar foe.

NCAAB Pick: BYU +14.5 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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BYU +14.5 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.