The WCC championship has run through Gonzaga for the past four years and this season will be no different. This year Brigham Young University gets to host a top-ranked team for the first time in school history when Gonzaga visits on Thursday, setting up the possibility for the Cougars’ greatest victory at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. The Bulldogs’ conference dominance has been exemplified with their play against BYU, which has been one of the best teams in the WCC, as the Bulldogs have won 10 of the past 13 against the Cougars.
The Cougars have also not defeated a No. 1-ranked opponent in four attempts, the last against North Carolina in 2007.
BYU (16-7, 7-3) is 12-1 at home this season and the atmosphere at the 18,987-seat Marriott Center will be something Gonzaga has not seen this season. Many of the Bulldogs’ road games in the WCC are in smaller arenas.
BYU is going to come out fired up against the nation’s No. 1 team. Mika and Emery will get some points early and give the Cougars a lead. But Williams-Goss will settle the Bulldogs down and guide them back, taking over and helping Gonzaga pull out the road victory.
Gonzaga is ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the second time in school history and at 22-0 is the nation’s last remaining unbeaten team. Don’t expect the Bulldogs to be satisfied, though. Coach Mark Few is pursuing his first trip to the Final Four after much regular-season success that often hasn’t carried over into the NCAA Tournament. They ranked first in the nation for just the second time in program history, has not trailed in the past 224 minutes of play. The Bulldogs have made a habit out of decimating opponents, as they have posted a nation-high plus-23.8 point scoring margin this season. One of the brightest spots for Gonzaga has been Zach Collins, as the 7’0” freshman is averaging 12.4 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting nearly 70 percent from the floor in the past seven games.
BYU has one of the best offenses in the nation, thanks largely to the efforts of Eric Mika. The sophomore has averaged 20.8 points and 9.6 rebounds with 13 double-doubles on the season. The driving force of this Cougars team is the trio of Mika, Nick Emery and TJ Haws, who all played together at the same high school before joining BYU.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs will try to spoil to the party and cover the point spread; they are 16-5 ATS against the betting line this season, while the BYU Cougars are 9-11 ATS. Gonzaga Bulldogs are 11-10 on betting the total; BYU Cougars are 8-11-1.
Rating these schools in several key categories is important for handicappers and BYU has the nation’s No. 21-rated offensive output, at 82.57 PPG. The visiting Gonzaga Bulldogs defense ranks No. 8 allowing on average 61.41 PPG. The Cougars FG% has averaged 46.84% so far, less than the BYU Bulldogs marksmen have achieved on the year, 51.23% per game. Handicapping and Betting on NCAA is better at HeritageSports