San Diego vs. Gonzaga Top Picks & Props for February 23: Zags In Lookahead Trap Game?

profile image of Matthew.Jordan
Julian Strawther #0 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs chases a loose ball against the Brigham Young Cougars. Chris Gardner/Getty Images/AFP.

NCAAB Pick: San Diego +23 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

BetOnline logo
San Diego +23 (-110)
Visit Site

It’s a potential lookahead game for No. 12 Gonzaga on Thursday night as the Zags host San Diego in West Coast Conference action. Gonzaga will win, it’s just a matter of how much.

Which side of the 23-point spread has the best value at the best sportsbooks? Read on for our NCAAB breakdown, including the latest NCAAB odds. Also, we have a play on the total.

Picks Summary:

  • San Diego +23 (-110)
  • Over 163 (-110)
  • Julian Strawther Over 18.5 Points (-124)

San Diego Toreros vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Thursday, February 23, 2023 – 11:00 PM EST at McCarthey Athletic Center

What You Should Know

It’s a great Thursday night in college basketball if you happen to be in the Eastern Time Zone and like late tipoffs as there are five games starting at 11 PM EST or later. No. 12 Gonzaga hosts West Coast Conference rival San Diego at 11 PM EST with ESPN2 having the telecast.

WCC teams don’t play every other school in the league home and home, and this is the only scheduled meeting between the Toreros and Bulldogs. Last year, they also played just once and the Zags won by 30 in San Diego. As you would expect, this rivalry has been incredibly lopsided in favor of Gonzaga. It has won 15 straight, 26 of the last 27, and 48 of the last 51 matchups.

The Zags are 49-4 vs. San Diego under Mark Few. The last USD win was at home on Feb. 22, 2014, by a score of 69-66.

Gonzaga is 4-1 ATS on the NCAAB picks in the past five meetings.

Familiar Name Coaching San Diego

I’m honestly not sure why San Diego isn’t better in basketball because it’s located in such a great area – although I guess if good players are going to play in the city, it would be at the much better program San Diego State.

The Toreros haven’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 2008 or finished with a winning record since 2018-19 and that won’t change this year with the team at 11-17 overall and 4-10 in the WCC under first-year coach Steve Lavin - the former UCLA national championship-winning coach. He was a bit of an interesting hire only because he hadn’t been a coach since 2014-15 with St. John’s.

USD (11-17, 4-10 WCC) is second-to-last in the conference and has lost three straight games, each by five points or fewer. The Toreros have been off since pushing No. 17 Saint Mary’s 62-59 last Thursday. San Diego nearly pulled off the comeback of the season as it trailed by 23 with 11:55 remaining, and outscored the Gaels 24-4 the rest of the way.

Saint Mary's was held off the board over the final 7:05. A potential half-court tying three-pointer by freshman Neel Beniwal as time expired just missed. He had a career-high 11 points, while Nic Lynch led USD with a season-high 17 points. He only averages 3.2 ppg.

Will Earlington and Williams Play?

Leading scorer Marcellus Earlington (17.6 ppg) hasn’t played since Feb. 11 due to injury. USD’s leading rebounder, Oregon transfer Eric Williams Jr., missed the Saint Mary’s game. On Nov. 17, Williams Jr. set a USD program record with 43 points. Not clear if they will go tonight.

With smaller schools like this, we often don’t find out about injured guys until right before tipoff when the starting lineup is released on social media. Because the team has so many transfers, San Diego has five players with at least 1,000 career NCAA points, including Earlington and Williams. Only Missouri has more with six.

One thing USD does well: it leads the WCC and ranks 10th in the NCAA for fast-break points per game (15.21).

Saint Mary’s Awaits On Saturday

Why could this be a trap game for No. 12 Gonzaga (23-5, 12-2 WCC)? The Zags are a game behind first-place Saint Mary’s in the league and host the Gaels in the WCC Game of the Year on Saturday with ESPN College GameDay in attendance. Very easy to look ahead to that one.

Gonzaga already has clinched one of the top two seeds and earned a triple bye to the semifinals in the WCC Tournament on March 6. The Bulldogs come off a 97-88 win over a bad Pepperdine team on Saturday. That game should not have been that close.

Coach Mark Few’s team hasn’t looked nearly as dominant this season in WCC play as in the past but does enter on a four-game winning streak and scored at least 88 points in each. The Zags lead the country averaging 87.5 points per game and shooting 52.5% from the field. They also are first in effective field goal percentage (.585).

Senior star Drew Timme, who has been playing college basketball since about 2010 it seems, is third in the nation with 236 made field goals and is seventh with 596 points. His 21.3 points per game rank 12th in the nation. Timme’s 2,117 career points are second in school history (80 points shy of first) and eighth in WCC history.

Timme has scored at least 30 points while shooting 75% or better from the field in a game seven times in his career. That’s the most such games by any Division I player in the past 25 years.

Top Picks and Prop

Anton Watson and Timme are first and second in the WCC in field goal percentage at 61.6 and 61.5%, respectively. Yet the hottest player on Gonzaga has been junior guard Julian Strawther, who has really improved his 2023 NBA Draft stock.

Over the past three games, he’s averaging 27.3 points, shooting 58.7 percent from the field (27-of-46) and 54.2 percent from three (13-of-24). The Zags are 15-0 this season when Strawther scores 14 or more points.

I do think the Zags will be looking ahead to Saturday so we’re taking all those points – Gonzaga has only covered nine of its past 33 at home. There won’t be much defense played.

For San Diego residents looking to bet on this game, you can do it at our top California betting sites.

NCAAB Pick: San Diego +23 (-110) at BetOnline

NCAAB Pick: Over 163 (-110) at BetOnline

BetOnline logo
Over 163 (-110)
Visit Site

NCAAB Prop Pick: Julian Strawther Over 18.5 Points (-124) at BetOnline

BetOnline logo
Julian Strawther Over 18.5 Points (-124)
Visit Site

*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.