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Gonzaga vs. McNeese State Odds, Picks, and Predictions

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published March 21, 2024
10 min read
  • Gonzaga ranks eighth in effective field goal percentage, ninth in points per game and adjusted offensive efficiency this season

  • McNeese State had the second-highest winning percentage (90.9%) of any team in the nation during the 2023-24 campaign, trailing only the Connecticut Huskies and James Madison Dukes (31-3)

  • The Cowboys rank 11th in unadjusted offensive efficiency and 28th in effective field goal percentage

After putting together an exceptional 30-3 record and punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament in the process, the McNeese State Cowboys look ahead at what will be their biggest challenge of the season: Gonzaga. The Bulldogs might not be the powerhouse they have been at times in the past handful of years, but their offense is still potent.

Gonzaga fell short of winning the West Coast Conference regular season title and the West Coast Conference Tournament championship this year, which was the first time it failed to secure at least one conference championship since the 2011-12 season. 

Can the Bulldogs make up for their lack of a conference championship with a national title instead? Or will the McNeese State Cowboys send the ‘Zags home early? Find out in our Gonzaga Bulldogs versus McNeese State Cowboys preview below, which features our betting prediction, picks, and promo codes!

March Madness 2024 Odds Picks Predictions Gonzaga vs. McNeese State

Sports Betting Promos for Gonzaga vs. McNeese State

Do you want to bet on the No. 5 Gonzaga Bulldogs versus the No. 12 McNeese State Cowboys but want to ensure you use a March Madness welcome offer from a sportsbook you aren’t currently signed up for?You can find all the information you need in the table below. It outlines the welcome offers from DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, and bet365, and indicates whether a promo code is required to claim the offer.

Gonzaga vs. McNeese State Prediction and Odds 

The Gonzaga Bulldogs enter this Round of 64 game against the sneaky good McNeese State Cowboys as 6.5-point favorites, despite the Cowboys boasting an impressive 30-3 overall record. Gonzaga is a -278 odds favorite to win the game straight up, while the Cowboys are +225 to secure the ever-enticing “12 seed over 5 seed” win. The point total for this inevitable offensive slugfest rests at 149.5 points, with the Over and Under both holding -110 odds.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

As alluded to above, it has not been the most successful season for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who had finished in the top ten in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin every year since 2017 until now. In the 2023-24 campaign, the Bulldogs also failed to win the West Coast Conference regular season title or the WCC Tournament championship for the first time in over a decade.

However, Gonzaga has done enough to receive a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament and has climbed to 15th in adjEM after a slow start to the season. The Bulldogs aren’t as mighty as the Drew Timme, Jalen Suggs, and Corey Kispert-led ‘Zags squad, but they remain a high-octane offense that ranks ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency, ninth in points per game, eighth in effective field goal percentage, seventh in two-point percentage, and 42nd in offensive rebounding percentage.

Losing Drew Timme, one of the winningest collegiate players in history, and Julian Strawther from last season’s team hurt the Bulldogs. However, the addition of Graham Ike and Ryan Nembhard in the transfer portal and the progression of returners Anton Watson and Nolan Hickman have proven to be enough to compete with the top teams in the nation. Gonzaga is a bit top-heavy this season, playing merely six players for 14 or more minutes. Still, it might not matter because its core group is in terrific shape (83rd in adjusted tempo) and has proven to stay out of foul trouble (80th in personal fouls per game). 

Gonzaga will go as far as its defense allows it to. The Bulldogs are only 43rd in adjusted defensive efficiency, but they have made significant strides throughout the season. In fact, Gonzaga now holds its opponents to the 26th-lowest field goal percentage (41%) nationally.

McNeese State Cowboys

This could be one of those dangerous “12 seed over 5 seed” matchups, as the McNeese State Cowboys have put together an exceptional 30-3 overall record during their 2023-24 campaign. Despite playing the 24th-easiest schedule (per KenPom’s Strength of Schedule Rating), McNeese State still ranks 61st in adjusted efficiency margin, demonstrating its dominance this year because its schedule is built into the metric.

Unlike the Zags, the Cowboys don’t mind playing at a slower pace (283rd in adjusted tempo). However, both teams can score quickly. McNeese State ranks 47th in points per game, sixth in three-point percentage, 28th in effective field goal percentage, and 11th in turnovers per game.

Even though McNeese State pours in nearly 40% of its three-pointers, it only attempts 19.1 per game, which ranks 283rd in the nation. Regardless, the Cowboys roster four players who shoot between 40 and 45% from deep, so they have threats that can knock down threes if left open, including Shahada Wells, Javohn Garcia, D.J. Richards Jr., and Antavion Collum. Their three-point shooting average would be even higher if Cameron Jones had not taken 51 threes this season.

Wells has been the focal point of the Cowboys’ highly efficient offense, logging just shy of 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game on a 48/40/79 shooting split. Christian Shumate, Garcia, Richards, and Collum are also significant contributors, averaging between nine and 12 points apiece.

McNeese State’s only offensive defect is its free-throw shooting, which is dragged down by Shumate’s 46.6% average. He takes the second-most free throws per game of any player on the team. Obviously, this could be a concern late in the second half, as Gonzaga head coach Mark Few is savvy enough to put Shumate on the foul line if the analytics say it makes sense. And they probably will.

Gonzaga vs. McNeese State Pick

McNeese State is a dangerous team. However, this is not a good matchup for the Cowboys, as the ‘Zags are an even more prolific offensive team, shooting an absurd 51.1% from the field on the season. 

Sure, the Bulldogs aren’t as elite of a three-point shooting team as they were in years past, but they do other things very well, like rebounding (14th in total rebounding rate), protecting the ball (17th in turnovers per possession), and moving the ball (19th in assists per game). 

Expect the Cowboys to keep this one close, but don’t be surprised if the Zags put Shumate on the foul line towards the end of the game and play him off the floor. If McNeese State doesn’t have Shumate’s physical presence, especially on the glass, due to free-throw shooting issues, this team could become discombobulated.

We will take the Gonzaga Bulldogs -6.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook. 

Gonzaga vs. McNeese State How to Watch

  • Teams: Gonzaga vs. McNeese State

  • Location: Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Date: Thursday, March 21 at 7:25 PM ET

  • TV: TBS, March Madness Live

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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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