2012 College Basketball Picks: Gonzaga @ Oklahoma St Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free College Basketball Picks 12/31/2012: An out-of-conference clash between top 25 teams will cap loaded slate of games on New Year’s Eve as the 13th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (12-1) go on the road to face the 22nd-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-1). For Gonzaga, the game is a chance to add the Cowboys to a hit list that already includes Big 12 opponents West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Baylor. For Oklahoma State, the game is a chance to back up its victory over North Carolina State with another statement win. The meeting is also the final tune-up for both teams before conference play begins, and playing at home, the Cowboys are one-point favorites.
A high-powered offense has carried the Bulldogs this season. Led by the frontcourt duo of Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga currently ranks ninth in the country in scoring and second in field goal percentage. While the Bulldogs big men are the team’s leading scorers, guards Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. are also averaging in double figures and provide plenty of firepower from beyond the arc. On the flip side, the Gonzaga big men don’t block many shots, and the Bulldogs are a mediocre rebounding team.
For Oklahoma State, a stifling defense has helped cover for an offense that has been inconsistent at times. For the year, the Cowboys are allowing less than 56 points per game, but their offense ranks just 94th in scoring and 147th in field goal percentage. Leading scorer Le’Bryan Nash has exemplified the problem, scoring 14.9 points per game but shooting just 43.5 percent. On the bright side, freshmen guards Marcus Smart and Phil Forte have been as good as advertised. Forte is the team’s top 3-point threat while Smart has been stuffing the stat sheet all year. Entering Monday’s game, Smart is averaging 12.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks.
The Bulldogs Win If:
Oklahoma State isn’t an explosive scoring team and isn’t a consistent team on the offensive end. If the Bulldogs can come out and establish their outside-inside scoring punch from the opening tip and turn this into a high-scoring game, the Cowboys are going to struggle to keep pace. In particular, the duo of Harris and Olynyk can loosen up Oklahoma State’s perimeter defense by scoring consistently and forcing double teams. At the end of the day, Gonzaga needs to establish a fast pace and create as many possessions as possible. If this game comes down to which offense has the most firepower, the Bulldogs will overwhelm the Cowboys.
The Cowboys Win If:
If Oklahoma State is going to knock off Gonzaga, it has to control the tempo. The Cowboys aren’t a good enough offensive team to outscore the Bulldogs in the shootout. However, they do have the athleticism to play lockdown defense if they can get a majority of the game played in half-court sets. The Cowboys also have the individual playmakers like Smart and Nash that can create their own shots and make difficult shots. Basically, Oklahoma State wants to make this game as ugly as possible, grinding things out on both ends of the court.
Although Oklahoma State has the best player on the court in Smart, the Cowboys’ offense is still a work in progress as a bunch of young players try to build chemistry. Meanwhile, the Gonzaga offense is a well-oiled scoring machine with plenty of frontcourt and backcourt scoring options. Yes, Oklahoma State is a solid defensive team, but the Bulldogs have the versatile scoring options needed to give any defense matchup problems. At the end of the day, the Cowboys’ offense just isn’t consistent enough at this point in the season to keep pace with the high-scoring Bulldogs.
Prediction: Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1) Cover the Spread
Gonzaga @ Oklahoma St
Line: Oklahoma St -2.5
Total: Over/Under 137.5
Time: 6 PM EST on ESPN2
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