Ever heard of KISS? No, not the rock band with frontman Gene Simmons. It is an acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid. The comma is added for effect. When it comes to the West Coast Conference, it is Gonzaga’s to lose. It is that simple. Head coach Mark Few reloads at an alarmingly good level for a program in such a small league and the beauty of a place like Gonzaga is that players often are not one-and-dones.
That means that the Bulldogs are one of the most experienced teams year in and year out and the diaper dandies that do go to Gonzaga wind up dominating before they leave. That will be the case again this year. Let’s be honest, Saint Mary’s is the only team that has a chance to unseat Gonzaga. Saint Mary’s did do that last season to win the conference tournament.
As a result, they are +130 to Gonzaga’s -125 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. It would be nice to be able to paint a rosy picture of teams like BYU, San Francisco, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, Loyola Marymount, San Diego, Pacific, and Portland, but that is virtually impossible.
Consider this: Gonzaga went 16-0 in the regular season in conference play. The Bulldogs’ lowest margin of victory was 12 points on the road at San Diego. In that game, the Bulldogs scored 1.199 points per possession. Their lowest PPP in conference play was .999 against Pacific in a 67-36 blowout on January 10.
Gonzaga wasn’t tested in conference play until the loss to Saint Mary’s, a game in which the Bulldogs shot 2-of-17 from 3 and had far and away their worst game of the season. They still made it to the Elite Eight before losing to Texas Tech.
Given that Gonzaga typically falls in the -200 to -300 range come conference tournament time, it actually isn’t a bad investment to go ahead and take Gonzaga now at DraftKings. Gonzaga brings in Texas A&M transfer Admon Glider and has a ton of length, including oft-injured forward Killian Tillie.
Gonzaga does have a fairly new roster, including Glider, some freshmen, and North Texas transfer Ryan Woolridge. In all honesty, there is a chance that Gonzaga struggles a bit in the non-conference and you may be able to find a better price but the -125 number will be long gone if everybody gels quickly. With a head coach like Few, that isn’t a chance worth taking.
Randy Bennett’s Gaels do bring in a potential game-changer in 7-foot-3 big man Aaron Menzies. The guards are pretty experienced and Jordan Ford was one of the heroes in the upset win over Gonzaga. Still, Saint Mary’s can be had at a better price once the conference tournament rolls around.
The only price worth grabbing here is Gonzaga. Teams like San Francisco and San Diego may very well be better, but nobody has the upside to topple the Bulldogs except the team that did it last year. It also seems unlikely that it will happen two years in a row, considering Gonzaga hasn’t come up short in consecutive years since 1997-98 as far as winning the conference tournament.
2019-2020 West Coast Basketball Conference Winner Odds: