The Pepperdine Waves (16-17 Overall, 6-10 WCC) have won three-straight games to get to this point, a chance to take on the #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (29-2 Overall, 16-2 WCC) in the WCC Semifinals. The Bulldogs are not just the top team in the conference, but they are also the number one men’s college basketball team in the nation. Our Gonzaga vs Pepperdine pick has the Bulldogs at -23.5. That’s a hefty spread. After all, the Waves have been swamping other teams as of late, winning their last three by an average of nine points per game. But, then again, this is Gonzaga, which has been scoring close to 90 PPG and holding teams to 65 PPG. Here’s how we see this Zags vs Waves matchup going as the two teams meet tonight at 9 pm ET on a neutral court.
Stats and Players
Here are the first, and most basic, statistics to consider. The Bulldogs are scoring on average 89.8 PPG, while the Waves have been putting in 75.7 PPG. Defensively, Gonzaga is keeping teams to an average of 64.9 PPG, giving them a plus/minus differential of +24.9. Pepperdine is allowing opponents 73.6 PPG. That gives the Waves a plus/minus of +2.1. Combining these numbers to get the overall plus/minus differential offers Gonzaga a +22.8 edge. That total just about reflects the spread in this game.
Also, the Zags are better than the Waves in other areas as they are plus-nine percentage points in field goal shooting, plus-seven in rebounding, and plus-six in assists. The Zags are also plus-six when it comes to creating TOs.
In the paint, Gonzaga’s Clarke and Hachimura will be tough to beat. They should easily control the boards. In the backcourt, Colbey Ross could be a major factor for Pepperdine when it comes to shooting and playmaking. However, the Bulldogs will respond from outside with Josh Perkins. He should offset Ross.
When we take everything into consideration, we see the Zags as having a big advantage.
Recent Trends and Developments
Our Gonzaga vs Pepperdine pick notes that the Bulldogs have won the last 36 games played between these two teams. The Zags are 13-7 ATS in their last 20 games, and in those games, they have won by an average of 31.1 PPG. When these two teams met on February 21, Gonzaga beat Pepperdine by 28 points. As of late, the Waves are 5-1 ATS in neutral site games, while the Bulldogs are 2-2.
A few more stats in terms of trends. The Zags are 19th in rebounding in the nation, while Pepperdine is 323rd. Also, Gonzaga generates 54.8% of their points from inside the arc. They rank 36th in the nation in this type of scoring. The Waves rank 325th when it comes to stopping teams from scoring inside. The Waves are 57th in the nation in generating 36.7% of their points from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs rank 26th in restricting teams to 30.7% of their scoring from outside. Once again, the edge goes to the Zags in this game.
Five Keys to this Game
In our Gonzaga vs Pepperdine pick, here are five keys-
- Control the boards and you win – edge Gonzaga
- Pepperdine must win outside game to stay close – edge Waves
- Depth, Health and Rest – give Bulldogs the edge
- Recent trends – Zags dominate
- Ready to Play vs Rust from Resting – Pepperdine advantage
Gonzaga vs Pepperdine Pick
Although the spread seems big, we do believe that the Zags are up to beating it. A 30-point win is not out of the question. However, if the Bulldogs are sluggish, or even worse, complacent, then the Waves may cover. But somehow I don’t think the top team in the nation will take this game lightly. Our Gonzaga vs Pepperdine pick is the Bulldogs at -23.5.