WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS (4-4)
vs. GONZAGA BULLDOGS (7-1)
Spokane Arena - Spokane, WA
Tip-off: Wednesday, 11:00 p.m. ET
Line: Gonzaga -22, Total: 142
No. 9 Gonzaga looks to bounce back from a tough loss to Arizona on Wednesday night when it hosts another Pac-12 team in Washington State.
The Cougars (2-6 ATS) have had a lot of problems under first-year head coach Ernie Kent, as the team has losses to TCU and Idaho. Washington State has had its issues stopping its opponents all season, and is just 2-9 ATS in the past two seasons against teams that do not turn the ball over. The Bulldogs (4-1 ATS) have been very good at home, and the Cougars have really faltered outside of Pullman the past two seasons with a 2-10 ATS record away from home. Gonzaga is currently averaging 85.0 PPG on the season, and has been nearly unbeatable when scoring at least 81 points the past two seasons, going 11-3 ATS. These two schools squared off last season, and Gonzaga won the matchup 90-74. Bulldogs PG Kevin Pangos scored 27 points in the game, as the Zags connected on 13-of-23 from the three-point line.
Can Gonzaga cover the mammoth spread against this Pac-12 team? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks. The experts have begun the 2014-15 season with a bang, posting a collective 56% ATS mark (58-46) in Best Bets. The five experts are led by StatFox Gary's stellar 71% ATS mark (15-6), while StatFox Brian and StatFox Zach are both 60% ATS (12-8) to open the season.
The Cougars have shared the ball well this season, ranking 75th in the nation in assists (14.9 APG). However, they have struggled in most other areas, as they rank 159th in scoring (69.5 PPG), 189th in rebounding (35 RPG) and 281st in shooting (40% FG). While it has been very difficult for the team to score, Washington State does have one of the best players in the conference in DaVonte Lacy (18.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 38% threes). The 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Tacoma has great size, and he is at his best when he is slashing and getting to the rim. However, it has been tough for him to find room to drive as the Cougars have struggled to shoot from the perimeter (33% threes as a team). Josh Hawkinson (17.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 1.6 BPG) has emerged as a potential star in the conference, as he is now playing five times the minutes he was last season as a freshman. He is tough to stop because teams canít just hack him and send him to the line as he shoots 83 % from the charity stripe. In this game, the Cougars will have to limit the turnovers, as they average 13.0 TOPG. Against a team like Gonzaga, that could make things very difficult for the Cougars.
Gonzaga has been one of the most balanced teams in the country, as it ranks 6th in the nation in shooting (53% FG), 8th in assists (18.8 APG), 13th in scoring (84.9 PPG) and 31st in rebounding (40.9 RPG). Five Bulldogs players average at least 10.5 PPG, with Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer (15.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG) leading the way. While he has not shot the ball as well from deep as he is capable of (33% threes), he has done a great job of getting to the basket and finishing at the rim. When he starts hitting from deep, he is going to become even more difficult to stop. PG Kevin Pangos (11.8 PPG, 5.9 APG, 45% threes) is the leader of this team, as he does a great job of realizing what his team needs. If he needs to go out and score 25 points, he is capable of that. However, if his teammates are on fire, he does a great job of getting them the ball and allowing them to make plays. Another transfer, Byron Wesley (11.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 2.6 APG) has continued to build off the success he had at USC. The Zags are capable of scoring in anyway possible, and that versatility should allow them to be in control of this game.