Free Picks: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs Santa Clara Broncos

Gonzaga on a winning streak – on and off the court
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs Santa Clara Broncos, NCAA, McCarthey Athletic Center

Only men’s basketball programs in the 21st century — and none since 2016 — have completed a perfect regular season. The No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (22-0, 13-0 West Coast) are two wins away from becoming the next to do it, and they’ll continue that journey on Thursday against the Santa Clara Broncos (10-6, 4-4 West Coast). The Broncos are a solid defensive team, but that might not matter against the Bulldogs, who own one of the country’s best offenses.

Santa Clara will try to match Gonzaga’s speed, but will that make a difference?

Do you want to watch the top-ranked team in college basketball? Of course you do! How about watching them play a team that, while undermatched, will likely do what it can to keep up with the top team’s blistering pace of play? That sounds even better, right?

No. 1 Gonzaga has an amazing offense (first in NCAA Division I in effective field goal percentage, 61.1 percent) and they like to maximize their offensive possessions by playing fast. Like, really fast. They have the third quickest average possession time in the country (14.1 seconds).

Their opponent on Thursday, Santa Clara, isn’t nearly as offensively adept (322nd in D-I in effective field goal percentage), but they like to play very fast too (22nd in average possession time). That makes for an interesting matchup on the NCAA basketball odds for Thursday. Make no mistake, Gonzaga will be a substantial favorite — though we can’t say exactly how much in this BetPicks prediction, because the odds aren’t available at time of publication. But something in the range of 25-32 points seems likely.

That’s certainly attainable for Gonzaga, a team that covered as 33-point favorites in its most recent matchup. They’ve been favored by 20 or more points in six of their past eight games, going 4-2 against the spread in that span.

The most Santa Clara has lost by this year is 23, when they lost to No. 19 USC back in December. And the Broncos are a pretty decent bunch defensively, ranking highly in effective field goal percentage (13th), 2-pt. percentage (21st) and 3-pt. percentage (43rd).

Then again, they’ve never seen a team like Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs can just beat teams in so many ways, with so many players. As a team, they average 93.4 points per game (a school record), with three players averaging over 14 points per game.

You might question what Gonzaga has left to prove. The answer is nothing. They are a lock to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. But the players are playing for a perfect season, a school scoring record and, in some cases, a look from NBA scouts. That’s why you should put your confidence in them.

Stats

  • Gonzaga is 5-4-1 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The UNDER has cashed in six of the Bulldogs’ past 10 games
  • Santa Clara is 4-6 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The OVER has cashed in six of the Broncos’ past nine games

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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University). You can follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHorrobin

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