The Gonzaga Bulldogs are in the NCAA tournament once again, but Bulldogs backers haven't had much March Madness luck with them as the Zags have gone just 4-9 against the spread in their last 13 tournament games.
The Bulldogs begin this year's tournament Friday afternoon when they take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in a West Region matchup.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Cowboys opened as 2.5-point favorites; the total was 141. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report.)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Oklahoma State to cover the spread
The Cowboys returned four starters from a team that won 24 games last year but got knocked out in the opening round of the tournament. Oklahoma State started this season 16-3 but then lost seven in a row, including three while guard Marcus Smart (18 points per game) sat out with a suspension.
The Cowboys then recovered to win five of their last seven, with the two losses occurring in overtime. So Oklahoma State is an at-large tournament entrant from the Big 12, this time as a No. 9 seed.
The Cowboys have four players averaging at least 13 PPG this season, as the team is averaging 80 PPG, and they can play some defense, limiting foes to 41 percent field-goal shooting. They have won and covered five straight as favorites.
Why pick Gonzaga to cover the spread
The Zags are making their 16th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance after winning both the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles. Gonzaga didn't play quite the usual brutal nonconference schedule, but still racked up a solid RPI ranking.
The No. 8 Bulldogs have four players averaging at least 10 points per game, rank fifth nationally in field-goal percentage at just under 50 percent, are hitting 39 percent from three-point range and are holding foes to less than 40 percent shooting.
Smart betting pick
Gonzaga is probably relieved that unlike last year's tournament, it doesn't have the “No. 1 seed” target on its back. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, is trying to rebound after getting bounced from last year's tournament in the first round.
The Zags are 3-4 against tournament qualifiers this season straight up, while the Cowboys are 5-11. But four of those OSU losses came in overtime. Smart wants to make a good last impression before heading off for greener pastures, so take the Cowboys minus the short spread.
This is also one of those situations where the No. 9 seed is actually favored over the No. 8. The past eight times this has happened, the underdog covered the spread.
Power rankings (per Odds Shark power ranks)
Oklahoma State Cowboys: No. 73
Gonzaga Bulldogs: No. 45
March Madness betting trends
- Gonzaga ended year on 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS
- Gonzaga 4-9 ATS in tournament since 2007
- Oklahoma State won and covered five straight as favorites
- The "under" bet is 7-1 past eight OSU first-round games
- Gonzaga is 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS vs. Oklahoma State since 2004
Note: All spread and betting line data powered by Odds Shark.