The stars have been in perfect alignment for quite some time now as Coach Rick has been absolutely “en fuego” bringing just what the people want – Today’s Free Pick Against the Spread!
We’re heading west for a Saturday night matchup in the little-watched West Coast Conference. The only reason anybody knows the WCC is because of Gonzaga. How many can the Bulldogs win by on Saturday night?
Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Washington
Current Line: GONZ -21 Total:
TV Coverage: CBS Sports Network
The No. 2 ranked team in the nation, Gonzaga has won its last 10 games in a row. More importantly, the Bulldogs have won their last four in astronomical fashion.
Head coach Mark Few’s team has won those last four games by an average of 35.5 points. What?
Yes, Gonzaga is simply much better than the competition in the WCC.
Pacific, which is 3-3 in conference play, is much better than it was last year. Head coach Damon Stoudamire – if that name sounds familiar it’s because he was a star point guard at Arizona in the 1990s – is in his fourth season at Pacific and has the Tigers trending in the right direction.
Trending in the right direction and beating Gonzaga are two completely different things. However, the size of Saturday night’s point spread makes this game very interesting. Gonzaga is coming off a 92-69 win over BYU last Saturday. Pacific lost to the Cougars on Thursday night 74-60.
What makes things even more intriguing is the status of Gonzaga leading scorer Filip Petrusev. The 6-foot-11-inch sophomore from Serbia is averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for Few.
In the win over BYU last week, Petrusev suffered a sprained ankle. He is listed as doubtful for Saturday night.
Now, Few always has a pretty deep bench, but he just recently lost freshman forward Anton Watson. He is now out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. If Petrusev cannot play on Saturday night, Few will have to rely on a six-man rotation.
That six-man rotation is pretty good though. All six players average at least nine points per game.
Corey Kispert is the team’s second-leading scorer with 14.4 points per game. Kispert was just named the WCC Player of the Week for his efforts last week. He averaged 17.5 points a game and made 7-of-12 from 3-point range.
Are Trends on Gonzaga's Side?
Don’t forget about Killian Tillie, who is back in the lineup after missing time with ankle and knee injuries earlier in the season.
That said plus Gonzaga’s history against Pacific looks as though the Bulldogs will notch another win. Gonzaga has won 16 of the last 17 against the Tigers. The last Pacific win over Gonzaga came during the 1976-77 season.
That point spread though. If Petrusev plays, he likely won’t be 100 percent. Plus, the last time Gonzaga played a Saturday game at home, they didn’t play all that well. They beat Pepperdine 75-70. It was the game prior to their four-game stretch of beating opponents by 35-plus.
I realize Gonzaga is 4-1 ATS in their last five games, but this one feels like 21 points might be too much to lay out there.
NCAAB Today’s Free Pick Against the Spread: Pacific +21
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.