Gonzaga will look to use their size and experience to overcome West Virginia’s press defense. Gonzaga is a narrow favorite for Thursday night, but the Bulldogs have struggled to cover the spread in recent action.
Here’s a closer look at the odds for the Sweet 16 matchup, as well as a prediction for the outcome:
Gonzaga vs. West Virginia Sweet 16 Odds
Spread: Gonzaga (-3), per OddsShark.com
Moneyline: Gonzaga (-160), West Virginia (+140)
Gonzaga Record Against the Spread: 23-10-1
West Virginia Record Against the Spread: 16-16-1
Head-to-Head History: Three total meetings. Gonzaga is 3-0 all-time against West Virginia, most recently winning in Morgantown in December 2013.
Preview & Prediction
Gonzaga was a great play against the spread earlier this season, and still finished with an impressive 23-10-1 ATS record. But the Bulldogs are 5-5 ATS in their last ten games, and will be tested against Bob Huggins and his press defense.
Their nickname has been “Press Virginia,” and the Mountaineers have been suffocating teams this season. They force turnovers better than any team in the country, and have a team built to handle that defensive intensity. Huggins will go to his bench early and often, and the Mountaineers will stay active to combat a size disadvantage inside.
If Gonzaga can navigate the press, they’ll likely look to feed the ball inside to Przemek Karnowski. West Virginia doesn’t have anybody close in height to Karnowski, but they’ll look to wear the seven-footer down with depth and tempo.
Notre Dame went into their second round meeting with West Virginia averaging 9.5 turnovers per game, and they gave it away ten times in the first half. If the Mountaineers can keep forcing mistakes and getting easy baskets, they could return to the Final Four for the first time since 2010. West Virginia won their region in Buffalo that year, at the same venue they’ll play Thursday.
Good tournament teams need an identity, and Huggins has given that to his West Virginia team. The Mountaineers are not afraid to hit the floor, and their depth plays a huge role in their style of play. West Virginia has never beaten Gonzaga in school history, but that should change with another strong defensive performance Thursday night.
Prediction: Gonzaga 76, West Virginia 81