BAYLOR BEARS (8-3)
at GONZAGA BULLDOGS (11-1)
McCarthey Athletic Center – Spokane, WA
Tip-off: Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Gonzaga -8.5, Total: 143
Baylor will look to beat its second ranked foe of the season as the Bears head to Spokane for a tilt against No. 13 Gonzaga.
Gonzaga’s uber-efficient offense has made easy work of most of its early season opponents—the Bulldogs are making 52.0% of their field goals, the third-best rate in the nation. Their forward-centric attack will be countered by one of the most dynamic point guards in the nation, 5-foot-10 speedster Pierre Jackson (19.0 PPG, 6.3 APG), who is among the best at his position in the country.
Can Gonzaga win comfortably on Friday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts continue to roll in the past two weeks, posting a collective 45-26-1 ATS (63%) record since Dec. 14. StatFox Scott is 9-5-1 ATS (64%) over this stretch, while StatFox Dave is 16-11 ATS (59%) in these 14 days. The experts now have a collective 54% ATS mark (159-137-7) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who is a perfect 8-0 ATS since Dec. 19, and sits at 63% ATS (36-21) for the season, while Dave is at 54% ATS (58-50-2) on the year with StatFox Brian at 51% ATS (34-33-2).
Jackson is the star, but the key for Baylor hanging close in this one will be in the post. Seven-foot-1 freshman C Isaiah Austin (13.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG) certainly has the body to be a defensive monster and is coming into his own more and more, having recorded three consecutive double-doubles. He’s joined by junior F Cory Jefferson (13.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG) who has been the team’s defensive stalwart with 2.5 BPG. SG Brady Heslip (10.2 PPG) rounds out the team’s double-digit scorers, but the other key player in the backcourt is G A.J. Walton (7.5 PPG) who makes up for his lack of scoring with 2.3 SPG and 4.3 APG. If he and Jackson (2.5 SPG) can take good care of the ball and stop Gonzaga from feeding the post regularly, the Bears will have a chance in this one.
Gonzaga features just three double-digit scorers in its high-powered offense, but the team’s minutes are distributed widely, as no player averages 30 minutes per game. Six-foot-8 senior F Elias Harris (15.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG) is the team’s leading scorer, but isn’t strictly a post player with a respectable jump shot. The same goes for 7-foot C Kelly Olynyk (14.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG), who is hitting a ridiculous 67.1% of his shots from the field. SG Gary Bell Jr. (10.5 PPG) is the team’s only double-digit scoring guard, but the key face in the backcourt is PG Kevin Pangos (9.9 PPG, 3.8 APG) who does most of the ball handling. He and PG David Stockton (4.3 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.1 SPG) will have to pester Jackson all night.