Northern Arizona vs Gonzaga
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the top-ranked team in the country once again following a superb 98-75 victory over the #16 Virginia Cavaliers at the neutral site this past Saturday. The Zags easily covered a 7.5-point spread and surpassed the Baylor Bears in the AP Top 25 Poll.
Gonzaga improved to 7-0 on the season while covering four times in the process. Corey Kispert dropped 32 points on Virginia, making nine triples out of just 13 attempts, while Drew Timme added 29 points and eight rebounds.
This forward duo is leading the way for the Zags this season, but don’t forget about freshman guard Jalen Suggs who’s averaging 15.1 points and 5.9 assists a night.
“It speaks to how good we are together, how much we gel and how good our chemistry is.” @corey_kispert checked in with @TheAndyKatz after recording a career-high 32pts in @ZagMBB’s win over No. 16 UVA. pic.twitter.com/cYkosuhf9P
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) December 27, 2020
The Zags are No. 1 in the country for a few reasons. They have the best offensive rating in the league, averaging 121.1 points per 100 possessions while playing at the fourth-fastest pace of 77.0 possessions per 40 minutes. Gonzaga shoots 55.7% from the field (3rd in the country), handing out 21.6 assists per game (6th). Also, the Bulldogs’ defensive rating is the 18th-best in the nation (90.2).
So, can the Zags cover a massive 38-point spread against the Lumberjacks? They are 4-4 ATS in the last eight outings as favorites of 30 or more points. On the other side, the 1-5 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 showings as underdogs of 20 or more points.
According to the KenPom rankings, the Lumberjacks are No. 333 in the country. They have one of the worst defenses in the nation, yielding 110.0 points per 100 possessions, so the Zags should cover even if they give a lot of playing minutes to their bench guys.
College basketball pick – Gonzaga by 38.
Maryland vs Wisconsin
The Big Ten showdown at Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin, will be a joy to watch although the Terrapins don’t look like a team capable of pulling off an upset against the in-form Badgers.
Wisconsin is 8-1 on the season and 2-0 in the conference play following an 85-76 road victory over the #12 Michigan State Spartans. It was their fifth straight win, and all five came by nine or more points.
“As far as running that team, making shots, making plays, he’s as good as there is in this league.
“Maybe as good as there is in the country.” – Tom Izzo on @DMitrikTrice0
🔥 Season-high 29 points at #12 MSU pic.twitter.com/DwmuWCAn0K
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) December 27, 2020
The Badgers are now #9 in the AP Top 25 Poll and #4 in the KenPom rankings. They have the fourth-best defensive rating (87.3) and the ninth-best offensive rating in the nation (113.7). The Badgers play at a very slow pace and are very aggressive on the defensive end, so Maryland will have a mountain to climb on Monday.
The Terrapins score 111.6 points per 100 possessions (16th) but surrender 95.8 to their opponents (84th). They are 5-3 on the season, dropping three of their last four games overall including a 73-70 defeat at Purdue last time out.
We don’t like what we saw from the Terrapins. They also play at a very slow pace, but the Terrapins shouldn’t have enough defensive firepower to cope with the Badgers. Likewise, their offense will be in big trouble.
College basketball pick – Wisconsin by 9.
Michigan State vs Minnesota
This one’s tough to predict, and the bookies know it well, setting the Spartans as slight 1.5-point road favorites. Interestingly, Michigan State is 5-0 straight up and ATS in its last five encounters with Minnesota, so if you like to follow betting trends, you won’t have any dilemma for this Big Ten matchup.
Furthermore, you should know that the last seven meetings between the Spartans and Golden Gophers went in the under. However, these two teams play at a very fast pace this term, averaging more than 73 possessions per 40 minutes each.
The 6-2 Spartans have dropped two straight games to Northwestern 79-65 and Wisconsin 85-76, opening the conference play with a 0-2 record. The Golden Gophers, on the other side, have won two straight contests over Saint Louis 90-82 and #4 Iowa 102-95 in overtime. They are 1-1 in the conference play.
• Hugs for everybody ✔️
• @GopherMBB now 8-1 ✔️
• Resume builder ✔️
— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) December 26, 2020
The Gophers have just outlasted the top-5 team for the first time since 2016. They will be fired up to get another big scalp, but the Spartans will be keen to bounce back and avoid another Big Ten loss.
We would follow the betting trends in this one. The Spartans have won four straight games at Williams Arena in Minneapolis and are 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS in their last ten road tilts against the Golden Gophers. The hosts could struggle with fatigue, and a hangover following a huge win over Iowa is a possibility, too, which is another reason why we’re backing the Spartans.
College basketball pick – Michigan State by 2.
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