Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga West Coast Conference Tournament Final Preview and Best Bet

Drew Timme #2 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Chris Gardner/Getty Images/AFP

Familiar foes face off in the West Coast Conference Championship Game on Tuesday’s sports betting card when the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs meet the Saint Mary’s Gaels. 

Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022 – 9:00 PM EST at Orleans Arena 

It’s easy to wax nostalgic about how different life was the last time Gonzaga wasn’t in the West Coast title game – it was 1997 for those scoring at home – and it’s easy to consider the matchup with Saint Mary’s for the crown to be a bit boring. After all, the Bulldogs are appearing in their 25th consecutive WCC Championship Game, and the Gaels are their opponent for the fifth time in seven years. 

This contest should be anything but boring, however, and we know Mark Few and Gonzaga won’t be taking Randy Bennett and Saint Mary’s lightly after what happened the last time the old rivals met. It no doubt kept oddsmakers at top sportsbooks up into the wee hours of the morning crunching numbers. 

Gaels, Bulldogs Split Last Two Championship Matchups 

Once those numbers were released at Caesars Sportsbook, Gonzaga was burdened with 13-point chalk.  ESPN will broadcast the contest on day chockful of conference tournament action, and the scoreboard target is 142. 

The Gaels and Bulldogs split their regular-season matchups by each claiming wins in front of the home fans, and the 67-57 win at Saint Mary’s is freshest on our minds. That one closed with the Gaels getting 10½ and the Bulldogs coming out cold and suffering through an overall poor night shooting the basketball

Gonzaga’s 74-58 win in Spokane came a couple of weeks earlier and pushed a -16 spread for most bettors. That triumph marked the seventh in a row for the Bulldogs in the rivalry and was part of a string of 34 consecutive WCC wins that was broken in the loss at Saint Mary’s a couple of weekends ago. The totals split in the two matchups this season. 

Their last collision in the conference finals came almost exactly two years ago and was one of the last college basketball games before the pandemic brought everything to a halt. Gonzaga scored an 84-68 decision on the NCAAB scoreboard that evening as 8-point chalk, with the final making it past the total with six points to spare. 

Win or Lose, Zags Should Be a 1-Seed at the Dance 

It will be easy today to spot bettors who dropped cash on Gonzaga’s 81-71 win over San Francisco last night. They’ll be the ones moaning about a bad beat for Bulldog backers or a backdoor cover for the Dons, and cursing Gonzaga coach Mark Few under their breaths for easing off in the second half and not covering the 14 points on the college basketball odds. 

Drew Timme’s dunk 10 seconds into the contest gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish, and there wasn’t much rust to knock off for a team that had been idle for 10 days. Gonzaga eventually built the lead to 24 points in beating the Dons for a 24th-straight time and shot better than 58% on the night while adding nine blocks on defense. 

‘Under’ a Winner in Four of Gaels’ Last Six 

Coming off their worst season since Randy Bennett arrived in Moraga 21 years ago, the Gaels were not seen as Gonzaga’s stiffest competition according to the NCAA basketball futures. It wasn’t that Saint Mary’s didn’t necessarily have a talented team as much as the squads at BYU and San Francisco were seen as stronger. 

Bennett and the Gaels survived Tuesday’s semifinals with a 75-72 win over Santa Clara, most shops favoring Saint Mary’s by 4 in that one. Like the Bulldogs in their win over the Dons, the Gaels never trailed while building a 15-point lead before things got a bit dicey. The Broncos entered the game as one of the top-scoring and shooting teams in the country. 

Few and the Bulldogs know that the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Tournament is on the line tonight, along with the opportunity to draw a site close to home. It has been a little more than six seasons since the Gaels beat Gonzaga twice in the same season, and that won’t change tonight. No offense to Bennett and Saint Mary’s, but the right college basketball pick is to back the chalk. 

NCAAB Pick: Gonzaga -13 (-110) with Caesars Sportsbook