The Arizona Wildcats and Gonzaga Bulldogs played against recent trends in their opening games of this NCAA tournament.
Arizona had won six tournament games in a row against the spread but couldn't cover 19 points against Weber State, while Gonzaga had lost nine of its last 13 tournament games ATS but covered as short favorites against Oklahoma State.
The 'Cats and 'Dogs meet in a West Region showdown Sunday night in Anaheim, where the underdog ‘Dogs are riding a 6-2 spread streak when catching points from Vegas.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Wildcats opened as 6.5-point favorites; the total was 127. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report.)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Gonzaga to cover the spread
The No. 8 Bulldogs are in the tournament for the 16th straight season, after winning both the WCC regular-season and tournament titles. Gonzaga then began this NCAA tournament with an 85-77 victory over Oklahoma State on Friday, shooting 50 percent from the floor, making nine of 18 shots from beyond the arc and holding the Cowboys to 40 percent shooting.
On the season, the Zags rank sixth in the country in field shooting at just under 50 percent and ninth in three-point accuracy at a shade under 40 percent. They will need both stats to hang with the Wildcats.
Why pick Arizona to cover the spread
The top-seeded Wildcats are back in the tournament for the second straight season, after losing just four games all year.
Arizona won 13 games this season against teams that made the NCAA tournament, then added to that figure with a 68-59 victory over Weber State on Friday. Overall, they are now 6-1 ATS in tournament play.
The 'Cats shot 55 percent from the field Friday, turned an early deficit into a double-digit lead and kind of coasted home from there. For the season, Arizona ranks fifth in the nation in field-goal defense, holding foes to just 38 percent shooting.
Smart betting pick
Prior to Friday's win and cover over Oklahoma State, Gonzaga had gone just 4-9 ATS over its previous 13 tournament games, indicating the Zags may have been a bit overrated by the linesmakers.
Meanwhile, Arizona had covered its previous six tournament games, until coming up short Friday against Weber State. But the Wildcats are a little more battle-tested than the Bulldogs and should take care of business Sunday. Give the points and go with Arizona, who have beaten the Zags three times in four tries since 2000.
Gonzaga Bulldogs: No. 45
Arizona Wildcats: No. 6 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- Gonzaga 1-3 SU vs. Arizona since 2000
- Gonzaga 6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS past six games
- No. 1 seeds 7-2 ATS past vs. No. 8 seeds since 2009
- Gonzaga 6-2 ATS past eight games as underdogs
- Gonzaga lost four straight second-round games
- Arizona 6-1 ATS past seven tournament games