After a closed door scrimmage against Michigan State and an opening exhibition vs. Central Washington, Gonzaga begins the 2018-2019 regular season on Tuesday night in the McCarthy Athletic Center as they welcome Big Sky conference foe, Idaho State. Gonzaga comes off a rather forgettable tournament loss against a less than stellar Florida State squad in the Sweet Sixteen. Meanwhile, the Bengals finished last season tied for sixth place in the Big Sky with a 14-16 record, resulting in a 1st round exit in the conference tournament. On the bright side, the Bengals 14 wins were the 2nd most since the 2002-2003 season when they went 15-14.

All-Time Series:

27-25 Idaho State. Surprisingly, this is Idaho State’s first appearance in the McCarthy Athletic Center since it opened in 2004. They are only one of twelve programs to have played the Zags over 50 times since 1949. The last time they met was the Friday after Christmas in 1996, when the Zags won 90-83 at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho. Same location where Gonzaga punched their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen last year.

Idaho State Report: 

The Bengals were picked to finish eighth by both the coaches’ and media in the Big Sky preseason polls. They return 3 of their 5 starters from a season ago, including leading scorers Brandon Boyd and Jared Stutzman, both who averaged 14.9 points per game. Boyd, a redshirt junior guard from Los Angeles, finished the season on a high note, averaging 20.7 ppg and shot 53% from the field over his last 10 games. Stutzman, a junior by transcript, transferred from Utah Valley after his freshman season. Weirdly enough, he made his college basketball debut in the Kennel two seasons ago when Utah Valley opened at Gonzaga. Stutzman has since become one of the best 3-point shooters in all of college basketball. Last year, he finished first among the Big Sky in 3-pt shooting percentage, and third in Division-I basketball.

How Gonzaga beats Idaho Sate: 

Winning vs lesser opponents is often taken for granted. If it were so easy, Saint Mary’s would’ve made the tournament a year ago (instead of losing to USF after beating them by 58 two weeks prior). But the Zags have made it 20 consecutive years, thanks to ‘taking care of business’ vs weaker teams. Gonzaga led the WCC in offensive turnover percentage the last two seasons, and finished 35th in the nation in 2018 (15th among teams who made the NCAA tournament). Tonight, the Zags just need to take care of the basketball. Stats:

Idaho State’s preseason rank of 259 is lower than every WCC team. However, ISU finished the 2018 season ranked 226, higher than four WCC clubs (Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Portland, and Santa Clara).

  • Opponent Ranking: 259 (out of 353)
  • Projection: Win 90-64
  • Odds of Gonzaga Winning: 99%

Vegas Odds: 

  • Spread: -29.5 (Zags)
  • Over/Under Total: 154
  • Pick: 93-61

Game Details: 

  • Time & Location: 6:00pm PST at the McCarthy Athletic Center
  • How to Watch: KHQ Spokane (Local) & Root Sports NW (Regional)

My Prediction:

93-63 Zags win led by the newcomer Brandon Clarke. Idaho State lost their starting center from a season ago after Novak Topalovic transferred to the University of Utah. Leaving them without a player over 6’8 til the summer addition of UTEP transfer Kelvin Jones. The Bengals finished the 2018 season ranked 320th in blocked shots.