WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (0-0)
at GONZAGA BULLDOGS (1-0)
Old Spice Classic – Spokane, WA
Tip-off: Monday, 11:59 p.m. ET
Line: Gonzaga -10.5, Total: 138
In a rematch of a 2012 NCAA Tournament game that No. 19 Gonzaga easily won, the Bulldogs will host West Virginia Monday night as the Mountaineers tip off their new season.
The story right now for the Bulldogs is a player who didn’t even start their first game—freshman Przemek Karnowski. The 7-foot-1 Poland native recorded 22 points in just 20 minutes in the team’s season-opening romp of Southern Utah, 103-65. He was one of six double-digit scorers for Mark Few’s squad in the game. The Mountaineers have yet to play a game this season, the first year in which they will be a part of the Big 12.
Can Gonzaga handily win Monday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. Last season, the StatFox group had a combined 65% ATS (206-110-4) success rate in college basketball Best Bets. StatFox Scott led the way at an amazing 71% ATS (56-23-1) followed closely behind by StatFox Gary (68% ATS), StatFox Brian (62% ATS) and StatFox Dave (60% ATS). This season, StatFox Scott continues his winning ways at 3-2 ATS (60%), while StatFox Brian has started off 2-1 ATS (67%).
The Mountaineers finished 9-9 last year in the Big East and bring back three starters. The big test for them will be integrating transfer Juwan Staten into the offense—he has a lot of potential, but it could take a while for him to find his groove with this new team in a major conference. He’s joined in the backcourt by Gary Browne (6.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.0 APG), who led WVU with 15 points (10-of-11 FT) and three assists in last year's loss to Gonzaga. The lone double-digit scorer returning from last year’s squad is PF Deniz Kilici (10.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG), but he will be helped in the frontcourt by transfer Aaric Murray. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 13.7 PPG and 7.2 RPG with 143 blocked shots in two seasons at La Salle. With lots of changes in the works for West Virginia and without their two high-scorers from last year, this team could need some time to work out the kinks.
Six players scored in double figures for Gonzaga in its opener with no player logging more than 25 minutes. Much of the credit for the scoring has to go to guard Kevin Pangos, who scored just 10 points but dished out six of the team’s 18 assists. More impressive than the passing, however, was the defense. The Bulldogs snatched 18 steals in the game while forcing 28 Thunderbirds turnovers. Pangos had four of those steals while Elias Harris (12 points, 7 rebounds) added four as well. These two players, regarded as the most valuable Bulldogs, each scored in double-figures in last year's NCAA tourney matchup with the Mountaineers. Pangos had 13 points (5-of-7 FG), five assists and two steals, while Harris scored 10 points with three steals in just 15 minutes of action. That’s the type of defense that helped smother the Mountaineers in last year’s Tournament.