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Saint Mary's (15-4, 2-2 WCC) takes on Pepperdine (9-9, 2-2 WCC) on the road in a battle of fourth-place teams. Last season, Pepperdine upset the Gales in overtime at home and lost by seven on the road.
A battle for second placeGonzaga is going to run away with the West Coast Conference, but what else is new? Saint Mary's is usually the only stumbling block, but at 2-2, they look ordinary. That's not to say they don't start picking it up because they had a pretty good non-conference slate. KenPom has them ranked at 39th overall and 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency so the talent is there.
But the Gaels have already lost at Pacific in overtime on Jan. 4, needed overtime to defeat BYU by three at home and lost at home to Santa Clara 67-66 on Jan. 11. That broke an eight-game winning streak over the Broncos. Jordan Ford led the way with 30 points, while Malik Fitts added 17 points and 11 boards, but went just 3-of-15 from the field.
Ford leads the Gaels in scoring with 22.2 points per game, while Fitts adds 15.9 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Saint Mary's averages 77.8 points per game on 47.9% shooting (19th) and a remarkable 42.1% three-point shooting (1st). They outrebound teams by 4.1 per game. On defense, they are allowing 65.8 points per game on 43.4% shooting (32.8% 3pt). That's good but not quite as dominant as past numbers.
Riding a wavePepperdine has won two straight games after losing to Pacific at home by three and to Gonzaga by five at home. The Gonzaga loss as a 21-point road dog, might have helped them gain confidence. Because the Waves defeated San Diego by seven on the road and Loyola Marymount at home by eight on Jan. 16 in their last game. Colbey Ross led the Waves with 20 points and eight assists, while Skylar Chavez added 15 points and seven boards. They also pounded the Lions on the boards by nine and shot 11-of-23 from beyond the arc (48%).
Ross (6-1, 180) leads the Waves with 19.9 points and 7.4 assists on 40% shooting (34.8% 3pt). Defensively, this squad needs to improve as they allow 76.7 points per game (324th) on 45.6% shooting (297th) and 38.4% three-point shooting (346th). But they can shoot it from the free throw line (83.5%) as they lead the nation and also shoot it well from deep (36.3%).
Trends from Covers.com Pepperdine is:
- 8-2 ATS last 10 as a dog.
- 6-2 ATS last 8 as a home dog.
- 2-5 ATS last 7 Saturday games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Pepperdine is a team on the rise and they have a lot of good shooters, just like Saint Mary's. The Waves beat the Gaels at home last season, so they know they can accomplish that feat. But Saint Mary's while still good, is not the team they once were because their defense isn't quite as strong. In that respect, they don't have value as a big road favorite.
Prediction: Pepperdine +7
Full-Game Total Pick
Both of these teams have great shooters led by Ford and Ross. But Pepperdine's defense is well, still a work-in-progress. They have gone over in two straight games and the Gaels have gone over in two of their last three games.
Prediction: Over 147