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Zags vs. San Francisco: Game Preview

Gonzaga takes on a team that needs a big win

NCAA Basketball: San Francisco at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Dons host Gonzaga in the penultimate conference game for both squads. Thursday’s game has major implications not just for WCC tournament seeding, but a win for San Francisco means that they’ve punched their ticket to the big dance. Draftkings has yet to release a line, but KenPom has Gonzaga as a 9 point favorite winning 81-72.

Meet the opponent

San Francisco Dons 22-7, 9-5 in WCC (3rd), 24 in KenPom

Thanks in part to the Zags dismantling Santa Clara on senior night in Spokane, the Dons sit at third place in the conference with a half-game advantage over Santa Clara. If the Dons win out, they will get to avoid playing BYU or Santa Clara in their first game in Las Vegas–though it could mean they play Portland, a team that most recently beat them by a point and lost by just three previously.

More importantly, a win over Gonzaga would likely sharpie the Dons onto the NCAA tournament bracket, finally providing them the marquee win that’s held them in bubble chatter for the last month. The Dons have a 3-4 record against Quad 1 teams and their highest-profile win remains to be against KenPom’s 47th ranked UAB in a game from last November.

San Francisco is coming off one of their most emphatic wins of the season, a 104-71 barnstorming in Stockton, California against Pacific. The 33-point win was spurred by an efficient 36 points between the senior backcourt of Jamaree Bouyea (15 points) and Khalil Shabazz (21 points on just 7 field goal attempts) and key contributors like Gabe Stefanini and Julian Rishwain adding 14 points apiece. The team went 15-29 from behind the arc.

What to watch for

Last Saturday’s game against the Broncos was the first conference game won by less than 16 points this season, thanks in large part to an out-of-character poor shooting performance by the team. It was the first time the Zags had an effective field goal percentage below 50% in 60 games.

The game was the first time freshman phenom Chet Holmgren shot below 50% since the December 28th game against North Alabama. Remarkably, he continues to have more blocks recorded than missed field goal attempts on the season (85 blocks to 81 missed shots). Holmgren will look to get back on track against a team he shot 70% against and racked up 22 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks.

Thursday’s game is the first of two of the toughest road environments the Zags will have faced this season as they go to Saint Mary’s on Saturday. Per February tradition, we have begun hearing questions on whether this conference schedule provides the needed tests for Gonzaga to get over the hump and win their first national title. A raucous War Memorial will certainly provide the settings of a test, we’ll just wait and see if the Dons match their fans’ intensity.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.