Yale vs. Saint Mary’s NCAA Basketball Preview and Best Bet

Tommy Kuhse #12 of the Saint Mary’s Gaels. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

More and more games are falling off the online sports betting lineup, but Tuesday’s slate still has some intriguing action that includes an East meets West matchup as the Yale Bulldogs battle the Saint Mary’s Gaels in the final contest on the card.

Yale Bulldogs vs. Saint Mary’s Gaels

Tuesday, December 28, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at University Credit Union Pavilion

The pandemic continues to wreak havoc in every facet of life, but it seems messier with college hoops since we’re coming up on the two-year anniversary of when COVID-19 canceled March Madness in 2020. Yale and Saint Mary’s are hopeful of squeezing in one more non-conference game before their league schedules begin in earnest.

Saint Mary’s has done better than expected on its non-con slate after coming off a disappointing 2020-21 campaign that saw the Gaels finish in the second half of the West Coast Conference standings. Yale, of course, didn’t have a 2020-21 season following the Ivy League’s decision to cancel all of its games.

Elis Make Long Trek West for First Game in Two Weeks

This contest will be streamed on the WCC Sports Network, that is unless you’re one of the lucky 1,500 or so fans to have a ticket inside the old McKeon Pavilion. Saint Mary’s is favored by 12½-13 at the best online betting sites, most of those outlets carrying 130 for the total.

If this seems like a long way for the Bulldogs to be traveling at this point in the season, head coach James Jones would agree with you. Jones would also tell you his team has little choice in the matter since Yale can’t find in-state teams to play on a regular basis. Yale has not played a team from Connecticut since a January 2017 meeting with Hartford.

At first, glance, that 6-7 record the Bulldogs take with them to Moraga isn’t very impressive for a team many picked to be at the top of the Ivy League. We do have to consider the fact Yale was out of action for about 18 months prior to its season opener seven weeks ago, and Jones is working with two years worth of roster moves in New Haven.

Jones has already used 19 different players this season, with 11 on the floor two weeks ago in a 69-60 loss to Monmouth. As he has done in 10 of the 13 games, Azar Swain led the Bulldogs with 17 points, but it still ended up being Yale’s fifth spread loss in the last six games.

Gaels Have Covered Four of Last Five Chalk Lines

We’ll know a little more about what Randy Bennett and the Gaels have in the next couple of weeks. That is, of course, contingent upon games being played and not waved off because of the latest variant for the latest flu from China. Saint Mary’s is slated to host San Francisco this Saturday in the WCC opener for both teams and will be in Provo a week later to take on the BYU Cougars.

The Gaels have at least been impressive at home with a perfect 8-0 record, covering five of the seven contests to include wagering particulars. Last week’s visit from Missouri State needed a second-half rally to pull off the win and cover, but Saint Mary’s came through in a 75-58 final that saw the Gaels outscore the Bears 29-12 over the final 12½ minutes.

Saint Mary’s was giving up 6½ at DraftKings and trailed by as many as six in the first half. Matthias Tass was the big story for the Gaels with a career-best 27 points while netting 12 of his 15 field-goal tries. The senior leads Saint Mary’s with a 12.7 PPG average and is 11th nationally with a 63.5% shooting clip.

Teams Meeting for Sixth Time

This will be the third time since he arrived at Yale in 1999 that Jones has taken the Bulldogs west to Saint Mary’s for a game. In all, the two programs have gotten together on the hardwood five times with the Gaels winning four of them.

The most recent meeting was almost exactly nine years ago when the Gaels posted a 78-62 triumph. Saint Mary’s was in control most of the way but didn’t have enough to cover a 21½-point spread on the NCAAB odds.

My first thought is Yale won’t be able to disrupt the slow, methodical pace Saint Mary’s wants to play. The spread feels about right, however, so I’ll bank on the final coming up short with my college basketball pick.

NCAAB Pick: Under 129 (-110) with FanDuel