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NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at St. Mary’s

Gonzaga Basketball Pick

One of the best mid-major rivalries in college basketball takes place tonight (11 p.m. ET) in West CoastConference action when No. 23 Gonzaga faces conference-leading Saint Mary’s. The Gaels are 3.5-point college basketball bets favorites on WagerWeb.com.

This is one of the nation’s underrated rivalries, matching a Gaels team (15-2) that has successfully replaced 2011 West Coast Conference player of the year Mickey McConnell against a Zags club (13-2) that has analysts murmuring again over a vast upside. Gonzaga has owned the WCC for the most part, but Saint Mary’s has a win in the series in four of the past five seasons, and two years ago, blew out GU in the conference-tournament final.

McConnell has been replaced by Aussie Matthew Dellavedova, the Aussie who moved over from the off-guard. Dellavedova is averaging 15.2 points. Forward Rob Jones is at 15.4 points and the five leading Gaels scorers all have more assists than turnovers. Jones was named the WCC Player of the Week after pouring-in a career-high 31 points last week at San Diego. He averages a league-best 10.5 rebounds per game and has 13 double-figure rebounding games this season.

Saint Mary’s will face a formidable challenge in the Gonzaga front line. In starters Robert Sacre and Elias Harris, Gonzaga boasts one of the most established, experienced big-man tandems in the nation. Add sixth man Sam Dower to that mix, and the Bulldogs have a trio up front that is averaging 33.7 points and 18.8 rebounds a game.

In the Gaels’ 73-71 win in Spokane last year, it took an unexpected contribution from forward Phil Benson to keep them competitive down low. That thin margin for error evaporated in two subsequent losses to the Bulldogs. Sacre, Harris and Dower combined for 52 points and 16 rebounds to win in Moraga, then went for 33 points in the WCC Tournament title game in Las Vegas.

Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga have won or shared every regular-season WCC title since 2001 and the two teams have met in the last three WCC Championship games in Las Vegas.

SA Take: Hard to pass of the Zags when they are as good as they are and getting points. Take Gonzaga plus the points.

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Thursday, January 12th, 2012 2012-previews-picks, College Basketball Betting

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