Game to be played at SAP Center, San Jose, California
Top-seeded Gonzaga looks for its third trip to the Elite Eight when it faces pressure-based West Virginia in Thursday’s NCAA Tournament West Region Sweet 16 contest at San Jose, Calif. Ball-handling will be of utmost importance for the Bulldogs when they face the fourth-seeded Mountaineers, who are the national leaders in turnovers forced at 20.1 per game.
West Virginia’s relentless approach is known as “Press Virginia” and the squad said it feels overlooked despite the school reaching the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in 10 seasons under coach Bob Huggins. “I’m just tired of everybody doubting us,” junior guard Jevon Carter told reporters. “We just go out there and prove people wrong. It just feels good.” Gonzaga boasts the best record in the nation but its season will be a labeled as a disappointment if it doesn’t reach the Final Four for the first time in program history. “Ultimately we’re going to have to accomplish that Final Four to kind of put it to rest and all that,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said at a press conference. “I think this is the 19th straight to the tournament, which isn’t easy.”
TV: 7:39 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: No. 1 seed Gonzaga hit the board as 3-point chalk and have been bet up to the current number of Bulldogs -3.5. The total opened at 147.5 and has been bet up one point to the current number of 148.5. Check out the complete line history here.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “On Straight bets the action is pretty even, but with more customers on Gonzaga. On parlays the majority of the action is on Gonzaga, while on teasers the bettors are on West Virginia and the game to go Over. When it comes to the Money Line action, the betting is pretty Even, but with more customers on West Virginia.” – Oddsmaker for BetNow.eu.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: Check back later for Covers Expert analysis.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA: The Mountaineers average 10.2 steals per game with Carter, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, totaling 91 (sixth nationally) and backcourt mate Tarik Phillip adding 63. Carter (13.3) and sophomore forward Esa Ahmad (11.3) are the lone players scoring in double digits while senior forward Nathan Adrian (averages of 9.7 points and a team-best six rebounds), Phillip (a senior averaging 9.6 points) and junior guard Daxter Miles Jr. (8.8) also are key figures. West Virginia averaged 84.5 points in its NCAA Tournament victories over Bucknell and Notre Dame and tallied 80 or more on 23 occasions.
ABOUT GONZAGA: Freshman reserve Zach Collins is highly regarded by NBA talent evaluators and the 7-footer averaged 12 points and blocked a total seven shots in the NCAA Tournament victories over South Dakota State and Northwestern. Collins averages 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds as a frontcourt complement to senior center Przemek Karnowski (12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds) and junior power forward Johnathan Williams (10-point average, team-best 6.6 boards). Junior point guard Nigel-Williams Goss (16.7 average) will be counted on to neutralize the West Virginia pressure while senior shooting guard Jordan Mathews (10.7) supplies the outside shooting touch with 74 3-pointers.
* West Virginia is 1-9-1 ATS in its last 11 games as a neutral site underdog.
* Gonzaga is 9-2 ATS following an ATS loss.
* Over is 4-0 in West Virginia’s last four non-conference games.
* Under is 4-1 in Gonzaga’s last five games as a favorite between -0.5 and -6.5.
Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus is giving the edge to the No. 1 seed in this West region semifinal with 61 percent of the public on Gonzaga. As for the total, 64 percent of wagers are on the Over. Click here for complete consensus analysis.