The last two NCAA runners-up will square off on a court in Phoenix when the fifth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs play No. 25 Texas Tech.
Watching the teams fight for rebounds could be worth the price of admission. Gonzaga is 13th nationally and Texas Tech 19th in rebounds per game. Gonzaga is fourth in rebounding margin, Texas Tech fifth in offensive rebounds per game.
Gonzaga’s Drew Timme (+400) is tied with EJ Liddell of Ohio State and Duke’s Paolo Banchero for the best odds to be named the National Player of the Year. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren checks in at +6000 while Terrence Shannon is at +10000.
Gonzaga (+450) leads the way in the odds to win March Madness while Texas Tech is in the top 25 at +4600.
- Game: Gonzaga (8-2) vs. Texas Tech (8-1)
- Location: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
- Day/Time: Saturday, December 18, 1 p.m. ET
- Television: CBS
|Gonzaga||-8½ (-110)||-410||146½ (-110u)|
|Texas Tech||+8½ (-110)||+330||146½ (-110o)|
Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Holmgren Hitting Stride
The reaction wasn’t quite as jaw dropping as when the No. 1 high school football player in the country opted to sign with FCS Jackson State so he could play for Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders but when 7-footer Chet Holmgren, the No. 1 player in ESPN’s Class of 2021 basketball recruiting rankings, decided to play at Gonzaga it definitely was a newsworthy event.
Holmgren flirted with a quadruple-double in his first collegiate game with 14 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and seven blocks in a win over Dixie State. He has scored in double figures in eight games in a row.
Holmgren is coming off back-to-back double-doubles as he averaged 12.5 points, 13 rebounds. 2.5 assists and 4 blocked shots in games against Alabama and Merrimack. It is Holmgren’s first double-double since the season opener against Dixie State.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after the Merrimack game that he felt like Holmgren could be shooting more than he is especially from the perimeter.
“Chet has turned down some 3s and I think that has hurt us thus far this year,” Few said.
The more 3-pointers Holmgren and his teammates make means more room to operate for National Player of the Year candidate Drew Timme who is coming off back-to-back 20-point games.
It has been a bit of an unscheduled break for Gonzaga. Due to COVID-19 issues within the Washington program forcing a recent game with the Bulldogs to be called off, Gonzaga hasn’t played since rolling to an 80-55 win over Merrimack on December 9.
Gonzaga has failed to cover against the college basketball spreads in four of its last five games.
Texas Tech legacy Lighting it Up
Kevin McCullar seemed destined to land at Texas Tech.
His father played football for the Red Raiders before heading to the NFL. However, when the younger McCullar arrived in Lubbock, it wasn’t always a walk in the park.
McCullar averaged 6 points and 3.2 rebounds in just 18.6 minutes per game as a freshman. After starting just six times during the 2019-20 season, McCullar has been in the starting lineup 26 times in 27 games over the last two seasons. This is his second consecutive season averaging at least 30 minutes per game but his shooting numbers, for a lack of a better term, have shot up.
McCullar made just 41.6% of his field-goal attempts and 28.3% of his 3-pointers in 20 games during the 2020-21 campaign but he is making 47.1% of his shots from the field and 36.7% from three-point range,
Texas Tech’s Kevin McCullar on the 26-5 run and what fueled it in the first half. pic.twitter.com/a0R9EdDUDY
— Carlos Silva Jr. (@cmsilvajr) December 15, 2021
He is the leading scorer for a team that is ranked 25th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll even if he isn’t one to take the credit for his success.
“I was just trying to play the game and not trying to force anything,” McCullar said after scoring 21 points in a win over Arkansas State. “My teammates did a good job getting me the ball.”
With all due respect to Arkansas State, things could get a little more challenging when the Red Raiders play Gonzaga.
“This was a great win,” McCullar said after the Arkansas State game. “We always celebrate the victories at Texas Tech because every game is a dogfight but tomorrow we come in, clean some things up and it is on to Gonzaga.”
The total listed by the Las Vegas odds have gone over in five of the last six games Texas Tech has played against West Coast Conference teams.
Texas Tech Looking to Knock Off Gonzaga – Again
It might be a surprise to those who bet online to learn that the Texas Tech Red Raiders have won all three previous meetings against Gonzaga and have covered in each of them. The most recent game was the sweetest of all as the Red Raiders’ 75-69 win put them into 2019 Final Four. No current member of either team played in the game.
With the way Texas Tech played defense and Gonzaga’s struggles to cover against the spread, those who bet online should tread carefully in going with Gonzaga to cover in this one.