- Top-ranked Gonzaga takes on Auburn on Friday at 11:00 am ET in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena
- Mark Few’s Bulldogs are coming off an impressive 102-90 win over No. 6 Kansas in their season opener
- Read below for odds, analysis, and best bet for this matchup between Gonzaga and Auburn
The first weekend of the college basketball season continues in style with No. 1 Gonzaga taking on SEC program Auburn in both teams’ second game at the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off Friday.
The Bulldogs looked every bit deserving of their top ranking against the Jayhawks on Thanksgiving Day, shooting an incredible 65-percent from the field with five players in double-figures. The Tigers had a scare, but avoided defeat in a 96-91 overtime victory over St. Joseph’s. Now, Gonzaga is a 12.5-point favorite against Auburn when the programs tip off at 11 a.m.. ET Friday at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Fla.
Auburn vs #1 Gonzaga Odds
Odds taken Nov. 26 at FanDuel
After their matchup with War Eagle, the Zags have a week off to prepare for a tantalizing showdown with No. 2 Baylor Saturday, Dec. 5 in Indianapolis. Meanwhile Bruce Pearl’s squad, which self-imposed a postseason ban for the 2020-21 campaign, will be back on the court Monday, Nov. 30 against Central Florida. In the meantime, let’s handicap Friday’s contest.
Look at some of the offensive superlatives achieved by Mark Few’s team in its lid-lifter against Kansas. Gonzaga scored 62 points in the paint Thursday, while also scoring 28 fast break points against a formidable KU outfit. But those two stats weren’t the most impressive.
Kansas’ 12-point loss to No. 1 Gonzaga is the team’s largest loss in a season opener since 1983-84.
This is also the first time Kansas has allowed 100 points in a regulation game under Bill Self (Jayhawks last allowed 100 to Oklahoma in 1990). pic.twitter.com/2pNfiXqHz4
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 26, 2020
When you do those things to a Bill Self-coached team — which boasts reigning Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Garrett on its roster (the favorite to win the award again this season), you’re doing something right. The Zags are the top-rated team in the land in offensive efficiency according to Ken Pom by almost two points and it was easy to see why on Turkey Day.
A Few Good Men
Auburn will have its hands full Friday with the entire Gonzaga team — but three players in particular.
Iowa’s Luka Garza is probably the most-talented big man in the country. That’s the reason why he’s the favorite to win the Wooden Award. But Drew Timme is pretty good too.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore took advantage of Kansas’ relative lack of bigs to dominate in the paint on the way to 25 points to lead all scorers Thursday.
Drew Timme with some smooth moves under the basketball!
— SWXRightNow (@SWXRightNow) November 26, 2020
Meantime, Jalen Suggs is only the second McDonald’s All-American to come to Spokane and play for the Bulldogs. The freshman was lights out on Turkey Day. He finished with 24 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. Then, he put the game away with a seven-point flurry with seven minutes remaining, including a 3 from way downtown that all but iced the Jayhawks.
This guy [email protected] | @ZagMBB pic.twitter.com/h4HgYDxOaV
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) November 26, 2020
Don’t forget Corey Kispert. Few said the 21-year-old has waited his turn behind players who have moved on from the program, and judging by his performance (23 points, four rebounds) against KU, he’s ready to shine this season.
As FOX Sports college basketball analyst Casey Jacobsen noted, “(He’s) probably the most confident player in college basketball. He thinks every play is for him. He feels this is his team, and he’s playing like it.”
With college basketball’s version of The Big 3 humming, the Tigers might be bumming.
If Pearl’s strategy was for his team to be tested by the Hawks in advance of their game against the Bulldogs, consider it mission accomplished.
[email protected]__jaywill is everywhere! pic.twitter.com/qJ4ircqOoU
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) November 27, 2020
The Tigers struggled to pull away from St. Joe’s in regulation. But Auburn gutted out a 96-91 overtime win, led by Jaylin Williams’ team-high 18-point, 11-rebound effort.
Auburn’s inability to slow down Taylor Funk, who finished with a game-high 28 points should be concerning for Tiger fans though. Funk is like slightly smaller — and talented — Timme. And we know what the sophomore from Texas did against the Jayhawks.
Yes, the 12.5-point spread is a big number. But I was bullish on Gonzaga last season, and I’m even more bullish on them this season. The season-opening win proved me right.
The pick: Gonzaga -12.5 (-110)