The 2021 NCAA championship tournament brings plenty of excitement in the second round, so here’s the best betting pick for the West Region showdown between the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners and No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Sooners meet the Zags for the first time in nine years. Back in 2012, Gonzaga dismantled Oklahoma 72-47 as a 9-point fave in the non-conference clash, and the Bulldogs open as massive 14-point favorites for Monday’s contest on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Oklahoma outlasted Mizzou in the first round
The Oklahoma Sooners had a tall task in the opening round but managed to deal with the No. 9 Missouri Tigers and earn a 72-68 victory as 1-point underdogs. They executed well offensively, especially in the second half, finishing the game with just six turnovers and making 46.7% of their 3-pointers.
Senior guard Austin Reaves dropped 23 points on Mizzou along with six assists and four rebounds. Reaves is a key guy in this Oklahoma team, averaging 17.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per contest.
The Sooners missed sophomore G De’Vion Harmon (12.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG) last Saturday, as he tested positive for COVID-19. Harmon will remain on the shelf Monday which is a huge blow for Lon Kruger’s team.
Oklahoma finished the regular season on a four-game losing streak, suffering all four losses by five or fewer points. The Sooners exited in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship Tournament after a 69-62 defeat to Kansas and entered the Big Dance as the No. 36 in the NCAA NET Rankings.
Gonzaga routed Norfolk State in the opener
The Gonzaga Bulldogs had no mercy in the first round of the 2021 NCAA championship. They routed the No. 16 Norfolk State Spartans 98-55 as 33-point favorites. The Zags shot 55.7% from the field and 51.9% from beyond the arc while handing out 27 assists and posting 45 rebounds.
Senior wing Corey Kispert led the way for Gonzaga with 23 points and five rebounds. Junior guard Joel Ayayi had 15 points and nine boards, while sophomore forward Anton Watson added 17 points and four assists off the bench.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has plenty of talent at his disposal. Kispert is tallying 19.3 points on 54.8% shooting from the field and 45.6% from downtown. Ayayi is posting 11.9 points and 7.0 boards per game; sophomore forward Drew Timme is notching 18.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest, while freshman guard Jalen Suggs is adding 14.0 points and 4.4 assists a night.
The Bulldogs are still undefeated this season, recording 27 victories so far. They beat BYU 88-78 in the West Coast Conference championship game.
- 11-2 ATS in the last 13 games as underdogs of 14 or fewer points
- 5-9-1 ATS in the last 15 outings in the postseason
I’m not surprised by a massive spread, as Gonzaga has been torturing its opponents all season long. The Bulldogs own the best offensive rating in the country, scoring 125.9 points per 100 possessions, while their defensive rating is the seventh-best in the nation (89.1).
However, the Sooners should have enough firepower to keep this game within 15 points despite De’Vion Harmon’s absence. Oklahoma tallies 111.9 points per 100 possessions (34th) and yields 94.6 in a return (48th).
The Sooners went 5-9 straight up in Quadrant 1 games this term. They covered the spread in 11 of their last 13 outings as underdogs of 14 or fewer points. I’m pretty sure the Zags will reach the Sweet 16, but with 14 points on the table, I have to go with Oklahoma.
Pick: Take Oklahoma Sooners +14.0 at -105
The Bulldogs play at the fourth-fastest pace in the country, averaging 74.6 possessions per 40 minutes. The Sooners are 223rd with 67.4 possessions per 40 minutes, so they have to slow down things and find a way to execute efficiently against the Zags’ defense.
Therefore, I’m going with the under, as Oklahoma cannot rush things against Gonzaga or will be in big trouble. Also, the Sooners will have to bring their best defense if they want to stand a chance of upsetting the odds here.
Pick: Go under 154.0 points at -110