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2021 West Coast Conference Tournament Betting Preview - Should Bettors Invest In Heavily-Favored Gonzaga?

SI’s Lead Vegas Insider Frankie Taddeo previews the betting odds and breaks down this week’s West Coast Conference Tournament.

The best college basketball team in the country is headed to Las Vegas, looking to continue their collegiate hardwood dominance. The only remaining undefeated team in the country - the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs - are overwhelming favorites to earn their eighth West Coast Conference (WCC) tournament title in the past nine years.

The 2021 WCC Men’s basketball tournament tips off on Thursday at the Orleans Arena between No. 8 San Francisco and No. 9 San Diego. Gonzaga and BYU, who finished the regular season as the top two teams in the conference, earned triple byes and will not play until Monday in the semifinals.

This year’s tournament, which will be played without any fans in attendance, will essentially serve as extra practice games for the Bulldogs ahead of their ultimate goal of an NCAA Tournament title. Gonzaga, a -10000 favorite to earn a No. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament at DraftKings Sportsbook, should have a favorable path laid out on Selection Sunday. The sharps in Vegas target numbers and value when placing wagers, and in this situation, a straight-up (SU) futures wager on Gonzaga (-1200) is not something they would invest in. Instead, sharp money will likely target individual games. While sporting a perfect 24-0 SU record, Gonzaga has not financially rewarded bettors at the windows posting a pedestrian 11-11-2 against the spread (ATS) mark on the season - thanks to inflated spreads intended to limit respected action, thus reducing liability for the house.

No. 1 seed Gonzaga vs West Coast Contenders

No. 2 seed BYU (19-5; 10-3 WCC; 13-7-3 ATS) +450

BYU, who closed out the regular season on a four-game winning streak, was also solid against the number posting a 3-1 ATS record to close out the season. More importantly, the Cougars lost to Gonzaga 82-71 in Utah while losing 86-69 on the road. In both games, sportsbooks paid out refunds to bettors as the clubs fell directly on the closing numbers of 11 and 17, respectively - resulting in a push.

No. 3 seed Pepperdine (11-11; 7-6 WCC; 12-7-1 ATS) +5000

The Waves were a solid team for bettors to back down the stretch, going 5-2 ATS in their final seven games and are being offered at healthy odds of +5000 to win the West Coast tournament. Despite having a double-bye until the third round, oddsmakers are looking at their two blowout losses to Gonzaga this season. Pepperdine was completely overmatched in both games against the Bulldogs - losing at home 97-75 and 95-70 in Spokane. Losing by an average of 23.5 points per game has resulted in massive longshot odds - despite drawing the No. 3 seed. If the Waves were to advance to a showdown with BYU in the semifinals, Pepperdine should have confidence after splitting their two games with the Cougars winning 76-73 at home while losing 65-54 in Provo.

No. 4 seed Saint Mary's (13-8; 4-6 WCC; 10-11 ATS) +5000

In February, the Gaels burned bettors posting a 1-4 ATS mark in their final five games of the regular season. Like the rest of the WCC, they lost both contests against Gonzaga by double-digits, losing 87-65 in Spokane after earlier falling 73-59 in California. Saint Mary's has appeared in four of the last five WCC Championship games - defeating Gonzaga in 2019. However, drawing the same side of the bracket as the Bulldogs virtually guarantees that the Gaels will not have the opportunity to add to the school's 13 WCC tournament titles in 2021.

Frankie Whispers Breakdown: The Westgate Superbook's oddsmakers have tournament futures properly priced and thus do not offer any attractive wagers for bettors. This is a hard fade on the best team in the country at these prohibitive odds. Gonzaga is easily the pick to win the WCC. In terms of any future value at odds of -1200, there is quite simply none. Anyone out there suggesting bettors should wager on the Bulldogs at this kind of number is someone to ignore. Playing individual games, via either pre-game or live in-game lines, is the only way bettors should wager on this year's West Coast Conference tournament.

Pick: Gonzaga (-1200) (Pass)

West Coast Conference Tournament Betting Odds:

Odds courtesy of Westgate Superbook

Odds courtesy of Westgate Superbook

2020 West Coast Conference Tournament Schedule:

Location: Orleans Arena -- Las Vegas, Nevada

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First round -- Thursday, March 4

  • Game 1: No. 8 San Francisco vs No. 9 San Diego | 6 p.m. PT
  • Game 2: No. 7 Santa Clara vs No. 10 Portland | 9 p.m. PT

Second Round -- Friday, March 5

  • Game 3: No. 5 Loyola Marymount vs Game 1 Winner | 6 p.m. PT
  • Game 4: No. 6 Pacific vs Game 2 Winner | 9 p.m. PT

Third Round -- Saturday, March 6

  • Game 5: No. 4 Saint Mary’s vs Game 3 Winner | 6 p.m. PT on ESPNU
  • Game 6: No. 3 Pepperdine vs Game 4 Winner | 9 p.m. PT on ESPNU

Semifinals -- Monday, March 8

  • Game 7: No. 1 Gonzaga vs Game 5 Winner | 6 p.m. PT on ESPN
  • Game 8: No. 2 Brigham Young vs Game 6 Winner | 9 p.m. PT on ESPN2

West Coast Tournament Championship Game -- Tuesday, March 9

  • Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner | 6 p.m. PT on ESPN
                                                        Bracket courtesy of the West Coast Conference

                                                        Bracket courtesy of the West Coast Conference

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