Is Gonzaga For Real?
GONZAGA'S HOT START HAS THEM THINKING ABOUT TRIP TO FINAL FOUR
You longtime readers know that we're generally skeptical about Gonzaga in terms of national championship potential. We've been encouraging sports bettors to fade Gonzaga in the Big Dance over the years, particularly against certain types of opponents. That advice proved valuable, because Gonzaga is usually overrated by the media and the market!
This year though, early results have largely confirmed enthusiasm about Gonzaga, who carries a #10 ranking from the AP poll into tonight's nationally televised road game at Washington State. It's the first true road game for the Bulldogs
Here's a quick review of what Gonzaga accomplished vs. top competition this season:
Gonzaga (-10) beat West Virginia 84-50
This game was played back on November 12. You probably didn't stay up late to watch on ESPN. Even if you did, there was no reason to stay up past halftime when it was already 45-18! Talk about sending a message. Gonzaga was already getting respect in the line...then let the world know they deserved even more.
Gonzaga (-12) beat Clemson 57-49
We move now to the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Florida that started on Thanksgiving Day. If you were like most sports bettors, you were paying more attention to football than basketball that afternoon and evening...even if this was a TV game on ESPN2. It was a non-cover for the Bulldogs at a high price in a slow game. Would this foreshadow trouble in the later rounds?
Gonzaga (-9) beat Oklahoma 72-47
NO! Gonzaga crushed Oklahoma in the semifinals in a game that was also on ESPN2. Gonzaga isn't exactly coming from off the radar here because they were a November TV staple along with Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Indiana. Gonzaga had the full game spread covered by halftime with a 10-point advantage. If you play first half and second half lines in Vegas, be aware that this team can start very fast if the opponent isn't ready for them.
Gonzaga (-9) beat Davidson 81-67
The tournament took a day off before finishing. ESPN2 carried the finals live...and Davidson once again started quickly. They led by nine at the break when the full game spread was nine...then they took the trophy in comfortable fashion.
That's how good Gonzaga is right now. They were favored by about 10 points in three straight neutral site games against teams you've heard of...and they went 2-1 against the line while compiling a composite 47-point victory!
Maybe tonight is when the line catches up. As we mentioned above, this is the first true road game for Gonzaga. But, they played so well in Orlando that they don't strike you as a team that's going to panic if they're not on their home floor. We'll be following this team closely because just might be suited to go deep this March instead of disappointing. Already a few early season simulations show a surprisingly large chance of a Final Four appearance.
Upcoming Games of Interest for Gonzaga
Saturday: vs. Illinois
December 28: vs. Baylor (who just won at Kentucky)
December 31: at Oklahoma State
Keep an eye on the Bulldogs. They're definitely on the short list of top priority teams you need to follow as you transition from college football to college basketball. Hey...there's only one college football game between now and December 15 (Army/Navy). There's college hoops every night!
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