Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s pick

It wasn’t a typical year for Gonzaga. Instead of beating all conference foes by 20-plus points, the Bulldogs have been tested and have lost twice in the West Coast Conference. One of those losses came in overtime against Saint Mary’s. On Saturday, the Bulldogs can even score at home.

While this team isn’t vintage Gonzaga, it’s still pretty good. The Bulldogs are ranked in the top 15 in college basketball by KenPom and have wins over Michigan State, Kentucky, Xavier and Alabama.

Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s pick

10 p.m. eastern, ESPN

The other thing to note is that it’s rare to get Gonzaga to score just two points at home. And by rarely, I mean almost never. So while the Bulldogs may be a step down from where they’ve been the past two seasons, now is a good time to root for them.

In the first meeting, Gonzaga controlled much of the game before a furious comeback from Saint Mary’s forced overtime. The Bulldogs led throughout the first half and led 45-37 with 10 minutes left. Saint Mary’s then outscored Gonzaga 41-25 in the final 10 minutes and overtime to win 78-70.

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One thing that sticks out to me about the first game is that Saint Mary’s went 16-for-21 from the free throw line. That’s a lot of foul shots for a team that ranks 252nd in free throw attempts per game. Gonzaga shot 16-for-23, so points from the line were dead. Look for the Bulldogs to have the advantage in this division at home on Saturday.

You can definitely make the case that Saint Mary’s is the better team overall and will advance further in the NCAA Tournament this year. I do think, however, that this is a great place to buy low on Gonzaga as a short home favorite.

Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s Prediction: Gonzaga -5 (-110, BetMGM)