BYU COUGARS (23-10)
vs. GONZAGA BULLDOGS (27-6)
West Coast Conference Tournament - Championship Game
Orleans Arena - Las Vegas, NV
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Gonzaga -4.5, Total: 147.5
For the 17th straight season, Gonzaga will play for the WCC Championship, when it takes on BYU on Tuesday night.
The Cougars survived a 79-77 overtime victory over San Francisco in Monday's semifinal game to clinch their first title-game appearance in three seasons in this conference. That also marked the club's sixth straight victory (4-2 ATS), a run that included a 73-65 home win over the Bulldogs on Feb. 20. Gonzaga enters Tuesday's championship with four straight victories (3-1 ATS), including a narrow 77-75 victory over 13-point underdog Santa Clara in Saturday's quarterfinals before Monday's 70-54 blowout win over Saint Mary's in the WCC semifinals. The Cougars are just 13-17 ATS this season, including 9-11 ATS in conference play and 1-5 ATS on a neutral court. The Bulldogs have been a winning wager both overall (16-15 ATS) and in WCC action (12-8 ATS), but have also been a poor bet on a neutral court (2-4 ATS). Although the quick turnaround is perfect for Gonzaga, which is a hefty 10-1 ATS when playing with less than two days rest this season, BYU is 20-8 ATS (71%) versus very good shooting teams (48%+ FG) after 15+ games under head coach Dave Rose. Neither team has any significant injuries to deal with on this championship night.
Which team will earn the automatic NCAA Tournament bid? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a stellar 59% ATS (256-175-16) mark, including a hefty 61% ATS (224-141-10) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is on an amazing Best Bets run of 19-1-2 (95% ATS) since Feb. 6, 28-4-3 (88% ATS) since Jan. 17, and 75% ATS (53-18-3) since Nov. 26 to give him a robust 71% ATS (60-25-4) record in Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 66% ATS (37-19-1) since in Best Bets Dec. 18 and 61% ATS (54-34-2) this season, while StatFox Scott is 64% ATS (9-5-2) since Feb. 16 and 57% ATS (49-37-4) for the season. StatFox Gary is 60% ATS (45-30) on Best Bets since Nov. 22 and 56% ATS (49-38-2) for the season.
BYU has an explosive offense that scores 84.8 PPG (3rd in nation) on 47.0% FG (45th in Div. I), and it also helps itself greatly by sharing the basketball (15.9 APG, 17th in nation) and attacking the glass for rebounds with 41.2 RPG (6th in Div. I) and a +5.3 RPG margin. Although the Cougars are skilled enough to compile 7.3 SPG (53rd in nation), they surrender 77.1 PPG (324th in Div. I) on 45.5% FG with a paltry 3.1 BPG (232nd in nation). Junior SG Tyler Haws (23.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG) is the team's leading scorer by a wide margin, netting at least 11 points in all of his games this season. Although Haws has shot poorly so far in the two WCC Tournament games (34% FG, 0-for-7 threes), he got the foul line 14 times in Monday's win, making all 14 to improve to 87% FT for the season. Haws also shoots 47% FG and 40% threes for the season, and averaged 17.5 PPG on 12-of-27 FG (44%) in two meetings with Gonzaga this season. Sophomore SF Kyle Collinsworth (14.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.7 SPG) is the team's best player because he's so versatile, and he is enjoying a whale of a WCC tourney with 20.5 PPG (58% FG), 14.0 RPG and 2.0 SPG. He has been solid against the Bulldogs this season too with 10.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 4.5 APG. Junior PG Matt Carlino (13.9 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG) is also a well-rounded player, and his 15 points in the win over Gonzaga on Feb. 20 ignited a five-game streak of scoring at least 11 points (16.2 PPG). But so far in this tournament, he has made just 7-of-23 shots (1-of-9 threes) with more turnovers (3) than assists (2). The last double-digit scorer for BYU is 6-foot-10 PF Eric Mika (11.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG), who has been bullish in the season series with the Bulldogs, averaging 12.5 PPG and 8.5 RPG in the two meetings.
Gonzaga also possesses an excellent offense, racking up 77.0 PPG (42nd in nation) on a blistering 49.7% FG (4th in Div. I) and 39.3% threes (21st in nation). The Bulldogs have a much stronger defense (65.1 PPG allowed, 57th in Div. I) than their Tuesday opponent, but they do not rebound nearly as well with a pedestrian 35.9 RPG (119th in nation) and +3.4 RPG margin. While PG David Stockton (7.6 PPG, 4.1 APG, 1.5 SPG) was the hero for Gonzaga in Saturday's semifinals with a game-winning layup in the closing seconds, four of his teammates average double-figure scoring. PF Sam Dower (14.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG) dropped in 23 points against Santa Clara to open the WCC Tournament, but made just 2-of-11 shots in the semifinal win. However, Dower is a perfect 23-of-23 from the foul line during the tourney where he's averaged 17.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG. Although he had a mere one rebound in 33 minutes in the Jan. 25 home win over BYU, he was much more aggressive in the Feb. 20 loss with 14 points and eight rebounds. SG Kevin Pangos (14.2 PPG, 3.7 APG, 3.3 RPG) had a huge game in the win over the Cougars with 24 points (6-of-10 threes), seven assists and four rebounds, but was held to 13 points on 3-of-9 shooting in the Feb. 20 defeat. SG Gary Bell, Jr. (11.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG) is able to score from anywhere on the floor with strong shooting percentages of 47% FG, 42% threes and 82% free throws. He's also been red-hot in the WCC Tournament with 13.5 PPG on 11-of-17 FG (65%), something he was not in the last meeting at BYU when he made just 1-of-8 threes and finished with only seven points in 32 minutes. C Przemek Karnowski (10.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.8 BPG) had a huge game to open the tournament on Saturday with 16 points and 12 boards, but was plagued by foul trouble in Monday's win, which limited him to just two points, four rebounds and four turnovers in his 20 minutes. He may need to produce more than his 7.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG he's averaged versus BYU this season to lead his team to another WCC title.