HomeCollege BasketballCollege Basketball Best Bets Today March 2 from Matt Youmans

    College Basketball Best Bets Today March 2 from Matt Youmans

    Matt Youmans shares his favorite college basketball picks for Saturday, March 2.

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    College Basketball Best Bets from Matt Youmans

    VSiN betting analyst and host of VSiN Tonight, Matt Youmans, shares his top college basketball picks for today, March 2.

    Gonzaga (+3) at Saint Mary’s

    If Randy Bennett were in a band, he would play second fiddle. For the past two-plus decades, Bennett has coached a Saint Mary’s basketball team that consistently runs second to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference.

     

    But there is finally change at the top. While the Zags have slipped a little this season, the Gaels have taken advantage. Saint Mary’s is 15-0 in conference play, clinching its first outright regular-season championship since 2012, and the 17th-ranked Gaels can run the table by beating No. 23 Gonzaga in the league finale tonight in Moraga, Calif.

    Saint Mary’s will be a sleeper-type team to watch in the NCAA Tournament. The Gaels opened eyes in last season’s tournament when they led Connecticut, the eventual national champion, four minutes into the second half before falling 70-55 in a second-round game.

    Bennett leans on veterans Aidan Mahaney, who’s a crafty point guard, Alex Ducas and Augustas Marciulionis in the backcourt and 6-10 senior Mitchell Saxen in the low post. After opening the season 3-5, Saint Mary’s (24-6) has won 21 of 22 games and owns the nation’s longest winning streak at 16 games.

    Still, this is not the time to throw dirt on Gonzaga, which is riding a seven-game winning streak that includes an 89-85 victory over Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Feb. 10. The Bulldogs (23-6) have lost twice in WCC play — by one point at Santa Clara in early January and by two points to Saint Mary’s on Feb. 3.

    Graham Ike, a 6-9 power forward who transferred from Wyoming, has averaged 23.2 points in the past six games to lead Gonzaga’s late-season resurgence. The Bulldogs also get steady scoring production from forward Anton Watson and guards Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard. After early-season losses to Purdue, UConn and San Diego State, coach Mark Few and the Zags got their groove back.

    Analytics guru Ken Pomeroy (KenPom.com) ranks Gonzaga 17th in the nation, slightly higher than Saint Mary’s at No. 21, and the Zags rank 10th in offensive efficiency, with the Gaels 44th. The numbers show a razor-thin difference between the teams.

    This game is probably going to the wire — the Gaels’ 64-62 win in the first meeting was decided in the final minute — but a Gonzaga team that won at Kentucky is certainly capable of grinding out a tough one at Saint Mary’s. And the teams will likely meet a third time in next week’s conference tournament in Las Vegas.

    The line currently sits at Saint Mary’s -2.5 at most sportsbooks, though +3 has been available overnight. If necessary, buy the half-point and bet +3, which is a key number.

    College Basketball Best Bet: (801) Gonzaga +3.

    My plays in this column last Saturday went 8-3 against the spread, with all three losses coming in overtime. Five more plays for today (with betting rotation numbers in parenthesis):

    (651) Oregon (+14) at Arizona
    (682) Rhode Island (-2) over Saint Louis
    (722) West Virginia (+3) over Texas Tech
    (759) New Mexico (+3.5) at Boise State
    (765) Michigan State (+10.5) at Purdue

    Matt Youmans
    Matt Youmans
    Matt Youmans is a Senior Editor of VSiN.com and has been writing for the website and hosting shows on the network since the beginning in January 2017. He currently hosts VSiN Tonight, weeknights from 9 p.m. to midnight ET, in addition to writing weekly handicapping columns.

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