NCAA March Madness: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. UConn Huskies betting preview, odds and predictions
In a 3 vs. 4 matchup in the West region of the NCAA Tournament, the Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the UConn Huskies with a spot in the Final Four on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch Gonzaga vs. UConn
When: Saturday (Time: TBD)
Where: T-Mobile Arena - Las Vegas, Nevada
Odds for Gonzaga vs. UConn
Spread: UConn -2
(Odds accurate as of Friday, March 24th at 12:15 a.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
West Region No. 3 Seed Gonzaga Bulldogs
Drew Timme has been the best big man in basketball in each of the last two years, and Gonzaga is lucky to have him as somebody it can rely on in the paint. Timme scores efficiently on his own, as he has absurd touch around the basket, but he also does great work creating for his teammates, which is why everything runs through him. The Bulldogs also have an excellent wing in junior Julian Strawther, who hit the deep 3 that buried the UCLA Bruins in the Sweet 16. The question for the Zags is how much they'll have left in the tank for this game. Gonzaga used a lot of energy in a come-from-behind win over UCLA, and having to play two days after an emotional win isn't for everybody.
West Region No. 4 Seed UConn Huskies
There was a point earlier in the season in which the Huskies looked like they were clearly the best team in college basketball. Things got a bit rockier for Dan Hurley’s team after a hot start, but this team has rounded into form in the tournament. UConn is very good on both ends of the floor, and the team has two borderline stars it can count on every night: Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins. Those two make up one of the best inside-outside combinations in the nation, and the Huskies have a bunch of other guys that know their roles. UConn is one of only three teams with a top-15 rating in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. And this Huskies team has been winning games convincingly throughout March Madness, despite having played three good teams: Iona, Saint Mary's and Arkansas.
Gonzaga vs. UConn matchup analysis
While Gonzaga is first in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency this year, UConn is third in the country in that regard. However, the difference between these teams is that the Huskies are 13th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, while the Zags are just 73rd. That's a pretty sizable difference, and UConn also comes into this one with the luxury of having played a very easy game in the Sweet 16. The Huskies earned a blowout win over the Arkansas Razorbacks. Meanwhile, Gonzaga erased a 13-point deficit to earn a win over UCLA in a game that felt like a heavyweight fight. Will the Bulldogs be able to regroup after winning an emotional game? That's a big question mark here.
This Gonzaga team is going to have some doubters because of its inability to get stops this season, but the Bulldogs held the Bruins to only 30 points in the second half of that last game. Gonzaga dug in and consistently got stops when it needed to, and that proved that the Bulldogs can level up and defend when the games matter most. Now, Mark Few just needs to drill it into his team that consistency is key moving forward. The Bulldogs simply can't afford to get picked apart in the pick and roll for an entire half. They were able to overcome that in the win over the Bruins, but that won't fly against the Huskies.
One thing to keep an eye on in this game is the battle between Drew Timme and Adama Sanogo. Timme had a ridiculous 35 points and 13 rebounds on 16-of-24 shooting against UCLA last game. But will he quickly turn around and put up huge numbers against Sanogo? The Huskies big man had 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the win over Arkansas last game. He is an absolute force in the paint for this UConn team, and his physicality could give Timme some trouble in this one.
Guard play is also going to be really interesting here. Gonzaga didn't get consistent play out of its backcourt this season, and both teams rely on a number of guards to get the job done. If somebody steps up and plays at a high level at the guard position, that could make all the difference in the world in this one — especially with Julian Strawther and Jordan Hawkins essentially canceling each other out on the wing.
This game could just come down to which team is shooting better from 3. This season, UConn has the 19th-best 3P% defense in the nation, while Gonzaga is just 255th in 3P% defense. The Bulldogs are going to need to make sure they're a little more disciplined when defending the 3 in this one, as they can't afford to let Hawkins and the Huskies get hot from deep. Gonzaga will also have to find a way to bury shots from behind the 3-point line, even in the face of good defense.
Overall, it does seem like the stats and metrics point to a UConn win here. However, the Huskies' incredible statistical profile didn't translate to a top-three seed in this tournament for a reason. UConn had a little trouble winning close games in conference play, and that's hard to ignore when running into one of the winningest programs of the last decade. If there's one thing the Bulldogs know how to do, it's get across the finish line in winnable games. Also, Gonzaga is usually a team with sky-high expectations during March Madness, and the group has had trouble living up to those. However, this year's team has none of that, so the Bulldogs are playing with nothing to lose.
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