Two of the three teams in first place in the West Coast Conference meet Thursday night in a big early-season matchup. No. 23 Gonzaga and Santa Clara have each got off to a hot start in conference play with back-to-back wins.
Santa Clara did it on the road, defeating Loyola Marymount on Jan. 4 and Pepperdine two days later. Gonzaga did it in dominating fashion at the McCarthey Athletic Center, blowing out Pepperdine 86-60 and San Diego 101-74.
Here’s the betting preview for Thursday night’s conference clash.
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Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara odds, spread and total
Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara betting trends
- Gonzaga is 6-8 ATS this season
- Santa Clara is 7-8-1 ATS this season
- Gonzaga is 6-6 ATS this season as a favorite
- Santa Clara is 4-2-1 ATS as an underdog
- The OVER is 7-7 in Gonzaga games this season
- The OVER is 7-8-1 in Santa Clara games this season
Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara how to watch
- Date: Thursday, Jan. 11
- Game time: 9:30 p.m. EST
- Venue: Leavey Event Center
- How to watch (TV): ESPN
- Gonzaga record: 11-4 (2-0 WCC)
- Santa Clara record: 11-6 (2-0 WCC)
Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara key players to watch
Graham Ike: Ike was named the Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year last season but never appeared in a game due to a foot injury. Now at Gonzaga, Ike is the Bulldogs’ leading scorer (15.2 points per game) and rebounder (8.0). Ike’s ability to get to the basket makes him a matchup nightmare. He’s shot just 11 three-pointers this season and ranks 22nd in the nation in field goal percentage (61.4). Over the last four games, Ike has averaged 20.2 points per game and has a pair of double-doubles.
Adama Bal: The junior guard is the top scorer for a Santa Clara team that is top heavy on the offensive end. Santa Clara is at its best when Bal takes over and he’ll need a big game against Gonzaga if the Broncos have a chance at an upset. Santa Clara is 6-1 when he scores 19-plus points and 5-5 when he’s held under that number. Bal scored a season-high 28 points in Saturday’s win over Pepperdine.
Gonzaga vs. Santa Clara prediction and pick
Gonzaga covered spreads north of 20 points in its first two conference games, so it’s not easy to go against the Bulldogs in conference play. However, Santa Clara is 4-2-1 as an underdog this season and won all four of those games outright.
The Broncos won as an eight-point underdog at Stanford on Nov. 14 and as a five-point dog vs. Oregon Nov. 24. More recently, Santa Clara beat Washington State as a six-point underdog and got past Loyola Marymount when it was getting two points. In this venue last season, Santa Clara had its upset bid come up just short in an 81-76 loss to Gonzaga, which was No. 9 at the time.
Gonzaga’s No. 40th ranked defense should have enough to slow down a Santa Clara offense that ranks No. 120th in offensive efficiency, per KenPom. The Broncos have just two double-digit scorers in Bal and Carlos Marshall Jr. as finding complimentary production on offense has been a problem. Santa Clara struggles with protecting the rock, ranking No. 250 in turnover percentage. Both of these defenses are in the top-50 in the nation in defending shots from inside the arc, which makes the under the best bet.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.