Two potential Midwest Region dark horses will meet in the first round March Madness as the 11th-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the 6th-seeded Seton Hall Pirates. When an 11th seed is favorite over a 6 based largely on reputation, the underdog is worth a close look.
The game tips-off on TruTV at 8:57 PM ET this Thursday, Thursday, March 17th at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
This isn’t the Gonzaga team that has been a perennial Final Four corner stone in recent years. It only reached the NCAA Tournament for the 18th straight season by winning the West Coast Conference Tournament after struggling during the difficult non-conference portion of its schedule.
You would have to rewind back to 2004 to see the last time Seton Hall was in the Big Dance. The Pirates broke into the national polls Monday, ranked No. 20 by the Associated Press and No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, for the first time this year after defeating No. 6 Villanova and No. 9 Xavier over the weekend en route to the Big East Tournament title.
Bet The No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs No. 6 Seton Hall Pirates March Madness Line & My Final Score Prediction
What: No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-7) at No. 6 Seton Hall Pirates (25-8)
When: Thursday, March 17, 2016
Start Time: 8:57 PM ET
Where: Denver, Colorado
Stadium: Pepsi Center
Spread: Gonzaga -1
Moneyline: Gonzaga -116 vs Seton Hall -104
Game Total: 145.5
Listen: Gonzaga vs Seton Hall
Why Bet The Gonzaga Bulldogs To Beat Seton Hall
Gonzaga closed the regular season red hot, winning their last five games in a row, all against West Coast Conference teams. In those five wins, they averaged 83.6 points per game, slightly better than their usual 79.7 scoring average.
Forward Kyle Wiltjer will be the go-to guy for Gonzaga as he is averaging 20.7 points per game, shooting 49% from the field. Domantas Sabonis, Arvydas Sabonis’s son, is the second best scorer on the team with 17.4 points per game and 11.6 rebounds.
The ‘Zags have won seven consecutive opening games straight-up, and the seeds understandably have flipped in the point-spread category.
This is a team that will be hard to beat if Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer dominate the paint.
Why Bet The Seton Hall Pirates To Beat Gonzaga
Seton Hall surprising victory in the Big East tournament came 23 years after their last Conference championship. They enter the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament riding a four game win streak, including impressive wins over Xavier and Villanova.
Since Seton Hall dropped a good battle against Xavier back on January 23rd, bet have won 12 of their last 14 outings. The Pirates average 74.8 points per game but managed to hit the at 80 point plateau in three of their last four games.
The team is led by sophomore guard Isiah Whitehead, who averages 18.4 points per game. Three other Pirates players average at least 10 points every time they hit the court.
Also, consider Seton Hall was one of the best teams against the spread this season, posting a 23-9 against the mark. The public has sold the Pirates short all season. They are a remarkable 23-9 ATS, with 12 wins in 17 outings occurring away from home.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
Even though Gonzaga has the experience I am backing the surprising Seton Hall Pirates in this first round March Madness tilt.
My final score prediction is Gonzaga 66, Seton Hall 70.