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Gonzaga vs. Texas prediction: Bet on Zags in rare underdog role

No. 11 Longhorns will be more competitive than last year vs. Gonzaga, but No. 2 Bulldogs are the right side

Senior forward Drew Timme leads the No. 2-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs into Austin, Texas, on Wednesday for a nonconference matchup against No. 11 Texas. Last year, Timme scored a game-high 37 points in Gonzaga's 86-74 home win over the Longhorns. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Senior forward Drew Timme leads the No. 2-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs into Austin, Texas, on Wednesday for a nonconference matchup against No. 11 Texas. Last year, Timme scored a game-high 37 points in Gonzaga's 86-74 home win over the Longhorns. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Read moreEzra Shaw / Getty Images

Texas and its fans have been waiting 368 days for another shot at Gonzaga, which pummeled the visiting Longhorns in a nonconference clash between then-Top 5 programs.

That wait ends Wednesday in Austin, where No. 11 Texas entertains the No. 2 Bulldogs in the night’s only college basketball battle between ranked foes.

Despite last year’s one-sided matchup in Spokane, Washington — and despite the fact the ranking gap between these schools is wider than it was a year ago — oddsmakers installed the Longhorns as a short home favorite.

While we agree with the oddsmakers that this will be a much more competitive battle than last year’s one-sided affair, we’re not sure they put the correct team in the “favorite” column.

Here’s our Gonzaga vs. Texas prediction, as the Longhorns welcome their first Top 25 opponent to the brand-new Moody Center.

Odds updated as of 9 p.m. ET on Nov. 15.

Gonzaga vs. Texas Prediction

  1. Gonzaga +1.5, -112 (at FanDuel)

Gonzaga vs. Texas Prediction: Analysis

You may recall that we faded Gonzaga on Friday in its neutral-site game against Michigan State aboard an aircraft career in San Diego. Turns out it was an easy call, because even though Gonzaga ultimately rallied from a 7-point halftime deficit to win 64-63, the Spartans covered the 12.5-point spread the entire way.

So you’re probably wondering why we’ve decided to now back the second-ranked Bulldogs in what will be a hostile true road environment. Especially since Texas has superior talent to still-unranked Michigan State and is in a revenge spot.

Well, for starters, we love the fact that Gonzaga has a gritty, down-to-the-wire victory under its belt against a nationally known program and Hall of Fame coach. The Bulldogs will be quite comfortable should this contest come down to the final couple possessions (and it very likely will).

Conversely, the Longhorns opened their season with one cupcake in Texas-El Paso (winning 72-57 but falling short as a 22-point home favorite). They followed that by hosting a cupcake with double frosting, pummeling something called Houston Baptist, 82-31, on Thursday.

We get it: College coaches like to start the season with some softies to assess their team’s strengths and weaknesses while creating chemistry and figuring out optimal rotations. But those two games did nothing to prepare Texas for the juggernaut they’re going to face Wednesday night.

And it’s a juggernaut that’s led by Drew Timme, an All-America candidate who had a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds in Friday’s nailbiter against Michigan State.

Just how much of a beast was Timme for the Spartans to handle? He fouled out two Michigan State starters late in the second half with the game in the balance.

» READ MORE: College basketball futures odds, predictions: Can Houston win it all in its hometown?

Texas coach Chris Beard definitely understands how challenging it will be to try and keep Timme in check, let alone stop him. Because his then-fifth-ranked Longhorns did neither in last year’s 86-74 loss at Gonzaga as a 7-point road underdog.

The 6-foot-10 forward played a near-perfect offensive game for the top-ranked Zags, going 15-for-19 from the field and 7-for-9 from the free-throw line, finishing with a game-high 37 points (to go with seven boards and three assists).

Timme was such a force that day that Gonzaga built a 47-27 halftime lead, then flipped it on cruise control, all while getting absolutely nothing from 7-foot freshman Chet Holmgren. The guy who would go on to be the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft took two shots, made one and finished with two points, five rebounds and four fouls in 23 minutes.

Do we expect Timme to be that dominant again Wednesday? Not at all, especially playing in the Longhorns’ barn. But he doesn’t have to be, because even though Holmgren is gone, Timme’s current supporting cast is every bit as good as last year’s.

Again, we don’t expect a one-sided blowout here. Not with Texas returning its two leading scorers from last year’s matchup (guard Marcus Carr and forward Timmy Allen, who combined for 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in Spokane). Plus, the Longhorns have added New Mexico State transfer Sir’Jabari Rice, a fifth-year senior who is averaging 12.5 points through two games.

Still, as talented as Texas is — and this team very well could make a deep run in March — we don’t think that talent stacks up man-for-man against Gonzaga. So we’ll take the small points that FanDuel is offering, even though we envision a 4- to 6-point Zags victory.

Gonzaga vs. Texas Odds (via FanDuel):

  1. Point spread: Gonzaga (+1.5, -112) @ Texas (-1.5, -108)

  2. Moneyline: Gonzaga (+100) @ Texas (-120)

  3. Total: 144.5 points

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