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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks February 29

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published February 29, 2024
8 min read
Best College Basketball Picks Today February 29

If you are located on the East Coast, we hope you are ready to stay up a little later than usual, as there is some fun West Coast Conference action on Thursday night, including the No. 23 Gonzaga Bulldogs versus the San Francisco Dons and the No. 17 Saint Mary’s Gaels versus the Pepperdine Waves. 

Saint Mary’s is riding a 15-game winning streak and has an opportunity to lock up the WCC regular season title in this bout against Pepperdine. Meanwhile, the ‘Zags have put together an impressive run themselves, leaping from a “bubble” team to a team that would likely make the field if Selection Sunday were today! Find out the best college basketball picks for these two enthralling West Coast Conference games below!

No. 23 Gonzaga @ San Francisco

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: San Francisco +4.5 (-110)

The ‘Zags are effectively out of the running for the West Coast Conference regular-season title, as there are only two games to go before the end of the 2023-24 regular season, and Saint Mary’s would have to lose to Pepperdine (covered below) for them even to have a chance to secure a tie. They would have to win on the road in this game and against the Gaels in the final game of the season, in conjunction with Saint Mary’s losing tonight. 

However, Gonzaga can still win the WCC tournament and build up its resume for the NCAA Tournament. And an element of pride is also involved in beating the Gaels, as they have been the only real consistent competitor in the WCC.

Gonzaga got off to one of its slowest starts to a season in recent memory, dropping five of its first 16 games (11-5), which might not seem like a rough start for some teams, but with their strength of schedule (144th in Strength of Schedule Rating per KenPom), it was not what you want to see as a ‘Zags fan. 

A drop-off from the past handful of seasons was expected as Drew Timme and Julian Strawther set their sights on the NBA Draft. Timme, in particular, was one of the best players in college basketball for several years and had a massive impact on the offensive end of the floor for Gonzaga. 

Still, the Bulldogs have little excuse to fall short of an NCAA Tournament appearance with their existing roster, which features transfers Graham Ike and Ryan Nembhard and returners Nolan Hickman and Anton Watson. Ike and Watson, in particular, have been sensational, combining for close to 31 points and 15 rebounds on over 60% shooting from the field!

On the other hand, the San Francisco Dons have performed at a high level all season, holding a 22-7 record overall and an 11-3 record in WCC play. The Dons have been sensational at home, winning 14 of their 15 games, with the sole loss coming against the Saint Mary’s Gaels. 

Jonathan Mogbo and Marcus Wiliams are the two stars who have guided the Dons to such an impressive season. Mogbo specifically has been unbelievable, shooting a ludicrously efficient 66.2% from the field; he can do a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor, leading the team in points, rebounds, and steals while also proving capable of dishing the ball to cutters and open shooters.

Ultimately, San Francisco getting points at home is a strong bet. The Dons have the personnel and offense to compete with Gonzaga; they rank tenth in the nation in field goal percentage and seventh in their past three games. San Francisco also ranks 18th in average scoring margin and 17th in total rebounding rate at home. In contrast, the Dons don’t defend the three-point line that well, but Gonzaga has struggled to shoot from deep this season, especially on the road. It’s a good matchup for San Francisco at home.

No. 17 Saint Mary's @ Pepperdine

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Saint Mary’s -16.5 (-105)

No team in the country has been as hot as the Saint Mary’s Gaels, who have won 15 consecutive games, boasting an undefeated record in West Coast Conference play. 

After a slow start to the 2023-24 regular season (much like Gonzaga), the Gaels have returned to their dominant ways, ranking 21st in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin, 15th in adjusted defensive efficiency, third in opponent points per game, third in opponent effective field goal percentage, and first in defensive rebounding percentage. 

Further, the Gaels defend the three-point line better on the road (opponent three-point percentage of 29.4%) than at home, ranking 16th in that category. 

The Gaels are also one of the slowest teams in the country, ranking 356th (out of 362 teams) in adjusted tempo; they want to make opponents defend for the entirety of the shot clock when they are on offense and lock down on the other end of the floor with their stout defense. 

The program under head coach Randy Bennett has prioritized the defensive end, and this season is no different. Saint Mary’s has a ton of experience, having returned Aidan Mahaney, Augustas Marciulionis, Mitchell Saxen, Alex Ducas, Harry Wessels, and Luke Barrett. 

The loss of Logan Johnson has certainly disrupted this team’s performance at times, but there is little doubt that bringing back six of their top eight players from last season’s squad has paid major dividends.

Frankly, we have no issues laying double-digit points with the Gaels in this spot. For one, this game represents an opportunity for Saint Mary’s to clinch the West Coast Conference regular season championship; however, if the Gaels lose here, then they have to beat Gonzaga in the final game of the regular season to avoid sharing the title with the Bulldogs. 

Additionally, the Gaels slaughtered Pepperdine in their first matchup, winning by a score of 103-59. That score resembles a varsity team taking on a junior varsity team more closely than two colleges battling in the same conference at the same division.

Why should we expect anything different? The Waves rank 306th in adjusted defensive efficiency, 293rd in opponent points per game, and 359th (out of 362 teams) in opponent effective field goal percentage. In fact, they allowed Saint Mary’s to shoot close to 62% from the field and 63% from deep just two weeks ago.

It is worth noting that Pepperdine is (mysteriously) a completely different-looking team on its home floor, but with the importance that this game carries for the Gaels, we can’t imagine this one being close.

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Andrew Norton

148 Articles

Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.

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