After dismantling No. 16 Saint Mary’s 77-51 in the West Coast Tournament Championship, Gonzaga is back under the spotlight. The Zags have won nine consecutive games and will likely land a No. 3 seed on Selection Sunday.
The Bulldogs have not grasped the elusive national championship with two losses in the NCAA Tournament final since 2017. Could this be the year? Will Gonzaga finally hoist its first national title? Here’s why the Bulldogs are one of the best online gambling options to cut down the nets.
Elite Offense Leads the Way
Outside of the top five national title favorites, Gonzaga is in a logjam with Baylor, Arizona, and UConn. NCAA Basketball odds have the four teams at +1600 each. The Bulldogs are in the best position to make a run. Gonzaga is also +550 to make the Final Four, per the sportsbook.
The high-scoring offense is the main reason to put your March Madness picks on the Zags. They lead the nation in Kenpom’s offensive efficiency, points per game, field goals made per game, and shooting percentage. Gonzaga is also in the 97th percentile with a 38.4% 3-point shooting percentage.
This elite offense checks several boxes for the Bulldogs’ title aspirations. First, 12 of the last 14 champions ranked in the top seven of Kenpom’s offensive efficiency. Since 2000, only four teams have won the NCAA Tournament while shooting under 36% on 3-pointers. The highly efficient unit is why many March Madness expert picks will back the Zags.
Let’s dig into why Gonzaga is difficult to stop.
Timme Supported with the Perfect Pairing
Of course, this team is built around 6-foot-10 forward Drew Timme. He has been one of college basketball’s best players for several seasons and leads the Bulldogs with 20.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The senior forward has some of the best footwork you will see at the college level, making his postgame near unguardable.
What makes Gonzaga exceptionally dangerous is Timme’s surrounding pieces. A dominant frontcourt player’s best friend is an elite shooter. Timme has a team full of great shooters he can kick the ball to at any time. In fact, the Bulldogs have five players shooting above 38% from beyond the arc: Malachi Smith (49.4%), Julian Strawther (42.6%), Rasir Bolton (39.7%), Ben Gregg (39.3%) and Nolan Hickman (38.3%).
JULIAN STRAWTHER WITH THE DAGGER 🎯
Gonzaga comes back to win it‼️ pic.twitter.com/vjSQ3vSP48
— ESPN (@espn) January 13, 2023
Strawther has been the breakout player at 15.1 points per game. The 6-foot-7 wing is a finalist for the Julius Erving Award – given to the nation’s top small forward. With an exceptional second-scoring option and good guard play that takes care of the ball at 10.5 turnovers per game (24th), the Zags will be a tough out in March Madness.
Gonzaga’s underwhelming defense is the main concern. It ranks 74th in Kenpom’s defensive efficiency, and the Bulldogs are in the bottom third nationally of allowed points per game, surrendered field goals per game and opponent 3-point percentage.
The Zags’ formula is simple. Play fast and try to outscore opponents, which works in most games. However, the NCAA Tournament will bring difficult matchups. Teams who play a slow-paced defensive game could present problems, like Houston or UCLA.
While there are better national title picks available, Gonzaga could be the best dark-horse March Madness prediction to win it all.