West Virginia Mountaineers versus Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Betting Preview
Time: 7:35 PM
Place: Sprint Center – Kansas City, MO
March madness odds:
West Virginia +3 (-110) 149 (-110) +140
Gonzaga -3 (-110) 149 (-110) -160
How they got here
West Virginia beat Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday to make it to their third consecutive Sweet 16. Jevon Carter had 24 points, Daxter Miles scored 18, and Elijah Macon and Esa Ahmad had 11 apiece. The ‘Neers scored 80 points for the 18th time, and broke the single-season WVU scoring record set by the 1958-59 squad, which included NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West. Gonzaga defeated Northwestern for their third straight Sweet 16. Nigel Williams-Goss scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Jordan Matthews had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Gonzaga and West Virginia will be squaring off for the fourth time in their history; the Bulldogs have been the victor in all three previous occasions. The Zags defeated the ‘Neers 77-54 in the 2011-12 season, 84-50 in 2012-13 season, and 80-76 in the 2013-14 season.
Players to watch
Carter leads WVU in points (13.3) and assists (3.8) per game, and scored more than twice as many points against Notre Dame as WVU’s previous opponent – and matched his season-high 24 points in the process. Nigel Williams-Goss is the undisputed heart and soul of the Zags beyond his stats – which are pretty damn good nonetheless.
March madness betting trends
The Zags were one of the most consistent bets during the regular season, and currently are 23-10-1 against the spread. However, better competition and increased exposure have been reflected in Gonzaga’s March madness odds. The Bulldogs are 2-4-1 ATS in the last seven games and 3-5 against the spread in the last eight games, and failed to cover the spread in their first two NCAA tourney games. WVU is 5-1 straight-up in the last six games but 0-3 SU and ATS in their three games against the Bulldogs (see above).
What to expect
The West Virginia Mountaineers defense ranks No. 43 giving up an average of 66.83 points per game. Perhaps this is the defense that Gonzaga head coach Mar Few has been saving Przemek Karnowski. The Polish powerhouse has posted modest numbers so far in the NCAA tournament, but Few has clearly been holding him back. Is it time to release the Kraken on the ‘Neers. We’ll have to wait and see. All told, Gonzaga has the country’s No. 12 offense, scoring 83.89 points per game.
This just in
According to Metro New (the voice of West Virginia), WVU’s assistant coach Erik Martin considers the Zags to have “maybe the best starting five in America.” “They’re big,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “(Karnowski’s) a low-block guy, and then they bring in another 7-footer that’s got good footwork, very agile and really skilled.”
The March madness odds favour the Zags to advance to their third Elite 8, where they would face either March madness betting favourites the Arizona Wildcats or the upset-minded Xavier Musketeers.