Gonzaga, one time Cinderella turned postseason professional, will attempt to advance to the third round of this year's NCAA Tournament tonight as it faces an upstart St. John's squad in Denver. This evening's game is scheduled to get underway at 9:45pm ET at the Pepsi Center; it will be broadcast live on CBS. NCAA Basketball Odds have the sixth seeded Red Storm listed as a -1.5 against the spread college basketball picks favorite and the Over/Under set at 135.
Gonzaga had an uncharacteristic non-conference record (11-6), but it did face a brutal slate, making it an extremely battle tested squad coming into tonight's game. The Zags squared off against six NCAA Tournament teams outside of league play, including San Diego State, Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Xavier.
Despite the Bulldogs poor start (4-5) and rough beginning to their conference season (2-3), they are one of the hotter teams in the country right now. Gonzaga (24-9 overall, 11-3 conference), which won the West Coast Conference tournament with a 75-63 victory against St. Mary's, has won nine straight games.
Gonzaga, which is 9-4 in NCAA Tournament opening round games, is 2-0 in two meetings with St. John's (2000, 2001).
St. John's found its way to the Big Dance for the first time since 2002 after putting together a 21-11 season. The Red Storm, which finsihed fifth in the daunting Big East with a 12-6 conference record, lost their last game, a meeting with Syracuse in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Dwight Hardy, the Red Storm's leading scorer (18 ppg), posted 22 points in the 73-79 setback. Sean Evans recorded a 11 point/12 rebound double double off the bench.
Prior to its loss against the Orange, St. John's had won eight of its previous nine games.
St. John's, which lost to Gonzaga in the second round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament, is 2-1 in its last three opening round games.
Gonzaga vs St. John's 2011 NCAA Bracket Picks:
Gonzaga Bulldogs +1.5 (-110), Over 135 (-110)
St. John's Red Storm -1.5 (-110), Under 135 (-110)