Gonzaga vs. San Diego NCAA Basketball Preview

Jalen Suggs #1 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Soobum Im/Getty Images/AFP

Jalen Suggs #1 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Soobum Im/Getty Images/AFP

Are the San Diego Toreros catching too many points at home against the Gonzaga Bulldogs? Here’s a complete preview for the game, including betting odds and our NCAA Basketball picks.

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. San Diego Toreros

Thursday, January 28, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at Jenny Craig Pavilion

Gonzaga opened as 27.5-point favorites and USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin has them at -25.60 using his Rating numbers, and at -29.55 using his eigenvector analysis, so there’s some room to grab potential betting value with San Diego +28.5 at FanDuel.

Gonzaga Has Been Unstoppable

At 15-0 overall, including 6-0 in conference play, Gonzaga is clearly the No. 1 team in the country. Gonzaga leads the nation with 94.4 points per game but their defense ranks just 183rd, allowing 70.6 points per game. That unit is not as dominant but they obviously get the job done, like on Saturday’s 95-49 home beatdown against Pacific.

Drew Timme led the way against Pacific with 22 points while Corey Kispert added 16 points and seven rebounds. The Bulldogs limited the Tigers to just 27.9 percent from the field (19-for-68) and 12.5 percent from beyond the arc (2-for-16). Pacific went to the free-throw line just 17 times and they missed eight shots at the charity stripe, which didn’t help them keep up with Gonzaga in what already an uphill climb.

Kispert, Timme and Joel Ayayi have scored 55 percent of Gonzaga’s points this season, including 60 percent of their points over their last five games. Corey Kispert is 12-for-23 (52.17 percent) from 3-point range over his last three games and San Diego can’t let him go off. Another player to watch in this game is freshman Jalen Suggs (plus-5.0 Offensive Box Plus/Minus, plus-5.4 Defensive Box Plus/Minus), who is averaging 13.9 points and team-bests with 4.9 assists and 2.3 steals.

San Diego Just Ended a Four-Game Losing Streak

San Diego was reeling after losing four straight games before beating Portland 78-70 on the road last Saturday. Josh Parrish had 20 points and eight rebounds in the win and four more players scored in double figures in a balanced effort on offense. San Diego forced 16 turnovers and limited Portland to just 8 of 22 from distance. Their 3-point defense has to be effective against a red-hot Gonzaga team.

Joey Calcaterra, Parrish, Vladimir Pinchuk and Jared Rodriguez have scored 56 percent of San Diego’s points this season and they all need to show up on Thursday in order for their team to have a chance against Gonzaga. The San Diego defense is playing much better, allowing 70.3 points per game in conference play after giving up 77.0 points against non-conference opponents. Gonzaga will test that improvement and they obviously need to be at their best against the best offense in the country.

Prediction

It’s clear that San Diego has to generate a lot of offense in order to be competitive with Gonzaga, which is easier said than done. A perfect game on both sides of the court and a lot of production from Joey Calcaterra (plus-3.7 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) and Josh Parrish (plus-0.6 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) are musts.

San Diego is 0-5 when they score 69 points or fewer this season and 2-1 when they score at least 70. They haven’t played anyone like Gonzaga though. The toughest opponents that they faced were UCLA on the road, who crushed them 83-56 in the season opener and Nevada at home, who beat them 79-72. San Diego will try to control the pace and they just don’t have enough firepower to trade baskets with Gonzaga but I’m not a fan of large spreads like this. I will take Under 158, I can’t trust in San Diego helping this game go Over.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 158 (-110) at Bet365

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