Gonzaga swept the season series with Saint Mary’s, winning by an average of 31 points while going 2-0 against the spread.
But that hasn’t stopped sharp bettors from backing the Gaels as heavy underdogs to the Bulldogs in Tuesday night’s West Coast Conference tournament title game at Orleans Arena.
Gonzaga is a consensus 14½-point favorite over Saint Mary’s at Las Vegas sportsbooks. When Caesars Entertainment went to 15 early Tuesday afternoon, it quickly took a five-figure wager on the Gaels.
“The public is on the Zags, but we took a big sharp bet on Saint Mary’s,” Caesars Entertainment sportsbook risk manager Jeff Davis said. “We kind of went to 15 when no one else was there just to see if there was some interest in Saint Mary’s because the avalanche of Gonzaga money was coming.
“We’re still going to need Saint Mary’s, but knowing that bet is there makes me feel a little bit more comfortable.”
The consensus total has climbed to 140, up from 139 on Tuesday morning. Both regular-season meetings went under, with Gonzaga doubling up Saint Mary’s in a 94-46 rout at home Feb. 9 before beating the Gaels 69-55 on the road March 2.
The six-time defending WCC tournament champion Bulldogs (30-2, 16-0 WCC) covered as 24½-point favorites in Monday’s 100-74 win over Pepperdine in the WCC semifinals to run their season spread record to 21-11-0.
“The public is on the Zags every night,” Davis said. “We need their opponent to cover in every game.”
The Gaels (21-11, 11-5) covered as 4½-point favorites in Monday’s 69-62 win over San Diego in the WCC semifinals. Saint Mary’s is 18-14 ATS this season but is on a 4-8 spread skid.
Davis said there’s three times as much money wagered on the WCC final as there is on any other game Tuesday.
Station Casinos was the only Las Vegas book with Gonzaga minus 15 on Tuesday afternoon.