Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Kansas Jayhawks – NCAAB, November 26, 2020
The 2020-21 college basketball season tips off Wednesday, November 25, and we have a marquee matchup between Gonzaga and Kansas on Thursday, so I’ve prepared my Bulldogs vs. Jayhawks prediction and betting pick.
These two schools finished the previous season as the top two ranked teams in the nation. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic spoiled the party and cut off the 2020 March Madness, but the Bulldogs and Jayhawks will meet at the start of the Fort Myers Tip-Off basketball tournament at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida.
Gonzaga vs. Kansas Odds
|Gonzaga to Win||-238|
|Kansas to Win||+189|
Kansas was the No. 2 at the NCAA NET Rankings last March when the pandemic started, right behind the Bulldogs. Interestingly, the Jayhawks finished the previous season atop of the KenPom rankings, while the Bulldogs were second.
Gonzaga and Kansas haven’t met each other since 1998 when the Jayhawks beat the Zags 80-66 as 11.5-point favorites.
A Look at the Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Bulldogs enter the new season as the No. 1 ranked team in the country. Although they lost a few significant players from the previous season, including the WCC Player of the Year Filip Petrusev, the Zags have some freshmen ready to explode, while their depth will be a big advantage once more.
Last season, seven Bulldogs players averaged at least 9.8 points per game. Gonzaga does return Corey Kispert, at least, and the senior forward is one of the best shooters in the country. He averaged 13.9 points as a junior while making 51.7% of his two-pointers and 43.8% of his attempts from downtown.
The Zags will lean on junior guard Joel Ayayi, too, while freshman Jalen Suggs is a tremendous prospect and will get many minutes in the Zags’ backcourt. As a five-star recruit senior in high school, Suggs averaged 23.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest.
Last season, the Zags were scoring 121.3 points per 100 possessions (1st in the country) while allowing 94.4 in a return (43rd). They went 31-2 overall and 15-1 in the conference play.
Assessing the Kansas Jayhawks
As well as the Zags, the Jayhawks suffered just one loss in their conference play this past regular season. They went 17-1 and finished atop of the Big 12, while the Jayhawks had a 28-3 overall record.
They were scoring 115.8 points per game (8th) while playing at a slow pace of 67.3 possessions per 40 minutes. The Jayhawks had the second-best defense in the country, yielding just 85.5 points per 100 possessions.
Kansas lost its two top scorers from the 2019-20 season, as Devon Dotson (18.1 PPG) and Udoka Azubuike (13.7 PPG) both joined the professionals. Junior guard Ochai Agbaji will have to pick up the slack after averaging 10.0 points per game last term, along with 4.2 boards and 2.0 assists.
The 6-foot-10 forward David McCormack will replace Azubuike in the starting lineup, and the Jayhawks could struggle defensively until they figure out a few things. McCormack averaged 6.9 points and 4.1 boards in 14.7 minutes per game in his sophomore season.
Gonzaga vs. Kansas Pick
Without exhibition pre-season games, it’s tough to say who’ll win this marquee showdown. Both Gonzaga and Kansas have many new players on their rosters and will need some time to pick up the pieces.
The Jayhawks are 7-2 ATS in their last nine outings, while the Zags are only 4-7 ATS in their previous 11 showings. However, I don’t feel comfortable leaning on betting trends at this moment.
Kansas should have more problems at the start of the season. The Jayhawks have plenty of inexperienced players, so I don’t expect to see them playing tough defense as they did last season.
Therefore, I’m backing the Bulldogs to win and cover. Gonzaga’s backcourt seems like a key factor here.
Gonzaga Bulldogs (-4.5)-110