San Francisco vs Saint Mary's Odds, Picks and Predictions: Dons Are Done For in Moraga

Saint Mary's is looking to protect its standing atop the WCC as San Francisco comes to town on Tuesday night, and our college basketball betting picks will put faith in them to hand the overvalued Dons another loss in Moraga.

Feb 20, 2024 • 12:03 ET • 4 min read
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This article contains predictions for an old game!

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The Saint Mary’s Gaels (21-6, 12-0 WCC) put a 13-game winning streak on the line Tuesday night as they host the conference’s second-place squad in the San Francisco Dons (21-6, 10-2). 

Sitting two games clear in first, Randy Bennett’s squad is in a good position in the WCC. The Gaels are on track to make their third NCAA Tournament in a row.

Chris Gerlufsen leads a talented Dons team that has won six straight, setting the tone for what should be a fantastic showdown on Tuesday night in Moraga. 

Looking at college basketball odds, the Gaels are -7 while the total has been set at 132.5. 

What’s the best bet for Tuesday night’s showdown between two of the country’s hottest teams? Check out our college basketball picks and predictions for San Francisco vs. Saint Mary’s to find out. 

San Francisco vs Saint Mary's best odds

San Francisco vs Saint Mary's picks and predictions

How does one maintain an undefeated record play in conference play as the calendar nears March? That’s a question that Randy Bennett, head coach of the Saint Mary’s Gaels, might be best equipped to answer. 

From an outsider’s perspective, it all starts with a suffocating defense surrendering just 57.7 ppg — the second-lowest average in the nation. It also doesn’t hurt to have a go-to scorer in guard Aidan Mahaney (14 ppg) leading an offense that can go four-out with shooters. 

This makes the Gaels very difficult to defend as both Mahaney and secondary scoring option Augustas Marciulionis can beat you off the dribble — a task made easier thanks to the open lanes naturally created by a lineup full of capable shooters from range — or kick it out to a waiting sniper. 

Saint Mary’s checks in 22nd overall in KenPom led by a Top-10 defense (eighth in adjusted efficiency) and a serviceable offense (62nd). 

One of the nation’s hottest teams, Saint Mary’s will get a tough test Tuesday night against the San Francisco Dons. The visitor is on its own winning streak, entering Moraga looking for its seventh win in a row. 

These two teams played on January 20 when the Dons fell 77-60 at home to end a seven-game winning streak. They’ve done nothing but impress since then, narrowly falling to Gonzaga by five points on the road before kicking off their current heater. 

San Francisco ranks 69th overall in KenPom. Similarly to Saint Mary’s, it checks in much higher on the defensive end (36th in adjusted efficiency) than the offensive end (102nd).

While the Dons are similar to the Gaels in that both have been on a hot streak and both are near the top of the WCC standings, I still see a gulf between these two programs. That’s why I’m targeting Saint Mary’s against the spread for Tuesday’s best bet. 

The Dons have been a little overvalued in the betting market lately, going 1-5 ATS in their last six games. In what world should they have been 9.5-point favorites over a good Santa Clara team? You’ll have to ask the bookmakers about that one. Still, it’s easy to see the signs and tell there’s been an overcorrection after San Francisco began the season with a blistering 13-5 ATS record. 

Saint Mary’s has been the inverse, beginning the season 3-5 straight up in its first eight games and 2-5 ATS in its first seven games. The Gaels have coalesced as a team since then and have really hit their stride, going 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games. 

They’ve also dominated this series, winning 19 straight games in Moraga. Regardless of venue, Saint Mary’s has usually been the right betting side, as evidenced by an 8-2 ATS record in the last 10 meetings. 

San Francisco has been squeaking by bad teams while Saint Mary’s has been dominating inferior competition and taking care of business regardless of the caliber of opponent. I’m not betting against the Gaels until given a good reason to think otherwise. 

There’s a -6.5 available as of Tuesday afternoon, and I’ll grab that while being comfortable up to -7.5. 

My best bet: Saint Mary’s -6.5 (-115 at BetMGM33% boost available

San Francisco vs Saint Mary's same-game parlay

Saint Mary’s -7

Under 133

50% boost available

Saint Mary’s can win a variety of game scripts but is most comfortable when its able to suffocate opponents with its elite defense. Therefore, I’ll add the full game total Under with my best bet on the Gaels against the spread to create this two-leg SGP. 

San Francisco’s offense tends to click when its able to create looks in the paint. The Dons are elite finishing near the bucket, sporting the nation’s second-highest field goal percentage at the rim (71.1% per Hoop-Math). 

Good luck finding easy buckets down low against Saint Mary’s. The Gaels have the fourth-best field goal defense at the rim (47.8%) and rank third in Haslametrics’ near-proximity defense vs. the average opponent. Big man Mitchell Saxen has stonewalled many an opponent before and it’d be no surprise if he does so again. 

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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San Francisco vs Saint Mary's spread and Over/Under analysis

This line opened at Saint Mary’s -8.5 before dropping down to the current number of -6.5 of -7 depending on where you look. The total hasn’t seen much movement and can be had for either 132.5 or 133 at current. Be sure to track future fluctuations and shop around using our college basketball line movement tool

Both teams have been adept at covering the spread this season — San Francisco is 15-11 ATS while Saint Mary’s is 14-11 ATS. They’ve gotten there in different ways, however, as the Dons started hot before going 2-6 ATS in their last eight games, whereas the Gaels started slowly before becoming a covering machine at 8-2 ATS across their last 10. 

As for the total, both teams should look to slow down the tempo, and that has me leaning toward the Under. Saint Mary’s prefers to play as slowly as possible, ranking 357th in KenPom’s adjusted tempo metric. We all know by now that Bennett prefers to limit possessions and focus on his team’s suffocating defense — a la West Coast Virginia.

We’ve seen some prolific San Francisco offenses in recent years, but this isn’t necessarily one of them. The Dons still possess a good offense, however, ranking seventh in two-point field goal percentage (59.2%) and 22nd in free-throw percentage (77.1%) while putting up 79 ppg. 

I’m just not sure this is the matchup for this offense to find success. Saint Mary’s has the nation’s best two-point field goal defense (41.8%) and will attempt to wall off the paint. 

San Francisco vs Saint Mary's betting trend to know

Saint Mary’s is 19-0 all-time at home against San Francisco. Find more college basketball betting trends for San Francisco vs. Saint Mary's.

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San Francisco vs Saint Mary's game info

Location: University Credit Union Pavilion, Moraga, CA
Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Tip-off: 11:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2

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