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Portland Pilots vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs Gambling & NCAA Handicapping Prediction

Portland vs Gonzaga CBB Picks

Wednesday night features a matchup between West Coast Conference foes: The Portland Pilots and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga, currently ranked 21st in the country, won’t have much trouble skating through the year to a conference championship, but this matchup isn’t like most on their schedule. [ad-4468020]

Portland (13-10, 5-6 WCC) at No. 21 Gonzaga (20-3, 10-1 WCC)
Wednesday, Feb. 5 11:00 p.m. ET at McCarthey Athletic Center
Spread: Gonzaga -15

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The Pilots are the only team in the conference to defeat the Bulldogs this year, giving Gonzaga an extra hop in its step as it prepares for tipoff.

Portland

The Portland Pilots may not garner much national attention, but their win over then-22nd Gonzaga on Jan. 9 sure got the Bulldogs’ attention.

That win ended Gonzaga’s 20-game winning streak, and while the team was surely pumped up to face an opponent who got their attention, they must be ready for a national powerhouse that now has even more motivation.

On the year, Portland is scoring a respectable 78 points per game. That’s good enough for 42nd in the nation, and it’s just 1.3 fewer points than what Gonzaga averages. The problem is efficiency. Gonzaga is third in field-goal percentage, shooting 50.4 percent on the year, while the Pilots are just 101st at 45.8.
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Portland is going up against a Gonzaga defense that is allowing just 65.9 points per contest on the year, and it’s going to need solid shooting throughout – or solid defense to make up for a subpar field-goal percentage.

Gonzaga

The last time the Bulldogs faced Portland, they allowed the Pilots to shoot 51.9 percent from the field. Portland also knocked down 8 of its 14 three-point attempts, which means Gonzaga must be focused on the defensive end this time around.

The other problem the last time the Bulldogs faced Portland was the absence of Gary Bell, Jr. The junior guard is averaging 12.5 points per contest—the third-highest mark on the roster—but more importantly, he shoots 46.8 percent from deep—the team’s second-highest mark (by 0.001 percent).

With Bell back in the rotation, don’t expect the Bulldogs to lay a duck like last time. In the first meeting between these two, Gonzaga scored just 73 points, being outscored by nine when it was all said and done.

Even if the Pilots come out hot, the Bulldogs are in much better shape with Bell on the floor. The team shot just 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) from downtown in the first meeting, and that shouldn’t happen a second time.

Combine the return of Bell with home-court advantage, and you’ve got a very motivated team looking to make a very clear statement.

Prediction: Portland 68 – Gonzaga 85

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