BYU travels to Spokane, Washington, tomorrow to face #1 ranked and 29-0 Gonzaga. To up the stakes for the game, Gonzaga will be having its senior night and looking to complete a perfect regular season.
BYU has beaten Gonzaga two straight years in the Kennel, but this year presents an even greater challenge than years past. Combining the aforementioned factors, Gonzaga should be extremely motivated to blow out the Cougars.
Just how stacked are the odds against BYU? Well, the experts are (unsurprisingly) all but guaranteeing a Gonzaga victory.
Vegas has opened the line with BYU as a 20-point underdog. Ken Pomeroy, who is widely regarded as the leader in college basketball analytics, gives BYU a 1% chance to win. Yes, A SINGLE PERCENT.
A BYU win would be the third time this season a team with a 1% chance to win has pulled off an upset in KenPom’s ratings. UVU was one those when it beat BYU in November.
BYU’s odds weren’t nearly this low the past two seasons when BYU won at the Kennel. In 2015, when BYU beat 3rd-ranked Gonzaga on its senior night, BYU closed as a 13.5-point underdog. Last year, when Gonzaga was ranked 25, BYU was a 7.5-point underdog.
What does BYU have going in its favor? Not much, to be honest.
Yoeli Childs sat out Thursday in Portland after hurting his ankle last Saturday against Saint Mary’s. Childs dressed for the game, but Rose decided to hold him out. Whether it was due to his ankle being in too much pain or BYU’s caliber of opponent (probably a combination of both), Childs will likely not be 100% Saturday. Childs progression over the past month has been one of the few bright spots for BYU, so BYU will surely be hoping Childs is ready to go.
BYU can take comfort in the fact it was fairly competitive in the last game versus Gonzaga. If you can recall, Nick Emery came off the bench that game after battling flu-like symptoms the entire week. As a result, Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss went off for 33 points without BYU’s best perimeter defender able to guard him.
All the pressure will be on Gonzaga this game. They are looking to complete a perfect regular season. They are looking to get revenge on BYU. They are trying to secure a #1 seed in the NCAA tourney. BYU can come in guns blazing looking to play the role of spoiler. Gonzaga is far superior, however, and that is almost always the deciding factor in sports.
If BYU wins, this would be the biggest upset in program history. The odds are stacked against the Cougars. Vegas doesn’t give BYU a shot. College basketball experts aren’t giving BYU shot. Heck, BYU fans aren’t giving BYU fans a shot.
Let’s see if they believe. Good luck, fellas.