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TCU vs Gonzaga Predictions, Odds, and Picks: TCU Spread Too Thin

Gonzaga didn't inspire a ton of confidence in its opening-round win, but against a hobbled TCU, our March Madness picks think the Zags should be able to build enough momentum to carry them into the Sweet 16.

Last Updated: Mar 19, 2023 9:58 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Drew Timme Gonzaga
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A stacked West Region continues play on Sunday as the No. 3 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs (29-5) face the March Madness odds underdog, No. 6 seed TCU Horned Frogs (22-12) in Denver, Colorado. 

Gonzaga started slow in the First Round against Grand Canyon but ultimately pulled away for an 82-70 win led by Julian Strawther’s 28 points. 

TCU trailed for most of its opener against Arizona State but a last-second shot by JaKobe Coles gave the Horned Frogs a 72-70 victory. 

Which team will keep its March Madness dreams alive and advance to the Sweet 16? Check out our college basketball picks for Gonzaga vs. TCU to find out. 

TCU vs Gonzaga best odds

TCU vs Gonzaga picks and predictions

I’ll spare you the traditional hot takes about Gonzaga not getting the job done in March. It’s the common narrative and needs to be addressed briefly, so I’ll summarize it with this: Mark Few has notched an 83.6% winning percentage in his coaching career but his 38-21 NCAA Tournament record is largely viewed as a disappointment despite reaching the Final Four twice. 

The Zags entered the 2022-23 NCAA Tournament without much fanfare after a relatively down season in which they still went 28-5 and ranked Top 10 in KenPom (seventh). They picked up a 12-point victory over No. 14 seed Grand Canyon in the opener but it wasn’t exactly flawless. The Zags went down 28-21 with six minutes remaining in the first half. They’d rally to pull ahead 40-36 at the break and never looked back from there, stretching the lead to 20 halfway through the second half. 

This is the second time since 1987 the Horned Frogs have made the Second Round. TCU has had an up-and-down season in which it has looked like one of the best teams in the country at points and wholly beatable at others. The Horned Frogs have dealt with injuries to star point guard Mike Miles Jr. and although he was allegedly 100% heading into the big dance, that’s the case no longer. Despite managing 26 points in the opener against Arizona State, Miles was notably slowed and his knee appeared to be giving him a world of pain. 

Limping past Arizona State on a last-second shot to secure the comeback is one thing, but having a quick turnaround against a powerhouse Gonzaga team while Miles is less-than-100% is a tall ask. Miles leads the team with 17.6 ppg and this offense has struggled to generate offense outside of him. TCU’s offensive profile overall isn’t encouraging — it ranks 341st in 3-point shooting (30.8%) and 254th in non-transition effective field goal percentage (Hoop-Math).

Gonzaga is an offensive juggernaut, ranking first in offensive efficiency per KenPom. Drew Timme and company should be able to score inside against a typically stout TCU defense that struggles to protect the paint, ranking 110th in near-proximity defense per Haslametrics and 280th in percentage of shots allowed at the rim per Hoop-Math. Big man Eddie Lampkin was the tallest rotational player at 6-11 but is no longer with the team after entering the transfer portal. He was the team’s second-leading rebounder, and now TCU will be at a severe height disadvantage with no other rotational player standing above 6-7. Timme and Anton Watson should be able to control this matchup through the post. 

TCU’s offense relies on getting to the rack in transition, but an injury to its star point guard puts that game plan into question on a short turnaround. Gonzaga started the season slow in a very difficult non-conference schedule but has been dominant since, going 24-2 over its last 26 games including a 10-point win over Alabama and two wins over Saint Mary’s. 

My best bet: Gonzaga -4.5 (-110 at bet365)

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TCU vs Gonzaga spread analysis

The spread is currently set at Gonzaga -4.5 across the board. 

There were outsized expectations placed upon Gonzaga in the betting market this season and that’s reflected in its 13-19-1 ATS record despite running through the WCC yet again and notching a few key victories in the non-conference against teams surviving to the Second Round in Xavier, Alabama, and Kentucky. 

The Zags failed to cover the spread yet again in the opening round, winning by 12 points as a 15.5-point favorite. The good news here is that Few’s squad typically bounces back after an ATS loss, going 5-0 ATS in its last five such games. 

TCU has been slightly unprofitable this season at 16-17-1 ATS. The Horned Frogs have gone on a cold spell to end the season that mostly coincides with Miles’ health concerns, going 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games against a team with a winning record. 

The Horned Frogs are supposedly led by a stout defense ranking 23rd in defensive efficiency, but that defense didn’t look to good in the first round against a poor shooting team in Arizona State. Gonzaga will have a huge size advantage with Timme and Watson down low and is also the much better shooting team, hitting 3-pointers at 38.9% (ninth nationally) and 3-pointers at 59.6% (second nationally).

I’d play the Bulldogs up to -5.5. 

TCU vs Gonzaga Over/Under analysis

The total opened at 157.5 but has dropped down to 156.5 across most books at current. There is still a 157 available at bet365 as of early Saturday afternoon, albeit perhaps not for long. I actually disagree with the line movement and lean toward the other side, although I’m not placing my own money down considering Miles’ uncertain health. 

TCU likes to get out and run offensively, ranking 54th in adjusted tempo (KenPom) and 30th in percentage of shots taken in transition (Hoop-Math). The Horned Frogs like to get downhill with speed and attack the paint, ranking fifth in percentage of shots taken at the rim (47.1%). My concern is generally that they don’t do anything else particularly well offensively, but that might not matter against a Gonzaga defense ranking just 197th in field goal percentage allowed at the rim. 

Gonzaga has had defensive efficiencies overall this season, ranking 75th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency. However, it’s what’s been holding this team back from being truly elite at times. The Bulldogs surrender 73.6 points per game and allow opponents to shoot 44.9% from the field, good for 262nd nationally. 

Gonzaga is elite offensively by any metric. It shoots the ball well from all three levels: per Haslametrics, the Zags rank 10th in 3-point shooting against the average opponent, second in mid-range shooting, and third in near-proximity shooting. The pace should be very high in this matchup as the Zags like to get out and run, too, ranking 44th in adjusted tempo. 

TCU vs Gonzaga betting trend to know

TCU is 0-6 ATS in its last six games following a straight-up win. Find more college basketball betting trends for TCU vs. Gonzaga.

TCU vs Gonzaga game info

Region: West
Location: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
Date: Sunday, March 19, 2023
Tip-off: 9:40 p.m. ET

TCU vs Gonzaga key injuries


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