The San Francisco Dons were once the mightiest team in the nation. Of course, that's when they had Bill Russell and KC Jones. But this season they showed some signs of being one of the best in the country. And they are part of what has been a banner year for the West Coast Conference. On Thursday night, they will step forward in the NCAA Tournament, as they take on the red-hot Murray State Racers in action that takes place at 9:40 PM ET at Gainsbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Some BetAnySports customers may only be familiar with Gonzaga from the WCC. But this year the league sent three teams into the Big Dance - Saint Mary's also got in, as did San Francisco. We must say that the Dons, with a 24-9 record, did not rise to the occasion when it came to challenging the best in the WCC. They lost three times to Gonzaga and twice to Saint Mary's.
So they actually have something to prove.
According to online igaming platforms, they will try to do it against Murray State, whose slate was almost spotless. Matt McMahon's team (30-2) lost only to East Tennessee State and Auburn, rolling to the championship of the Ohio Valley Conference, in what is their last season in the league (they'll go to the Missouri Valley next year).
They are currently on a 20-game winning streak, even though significant non-conference wins really weren't there (they DID beat Memphis,though).
Murray State Racers -2
San Francisco Dons +2
Over 137.5 Points -110
Under 137.5 Poiints -110
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One can expect San Francisco to rely on its defense. They have been pretty airtight against three-point shooting, holding teams to a little less than 29% from beyond the arc. Murray State has permitted just 30% from long range.
Between these teams, USF is the one that has been far more dependent upon triples, as they have constituted over 44% of their field goal attempts. And that number might even increase because of an injury.
According to Pay Per Head Sportsbook stats, the Dons were missing 6-9 forward Yauhen Massalski in the WCC tourney. The transfer from the University of San Diego, who averaged 13.5 points,9.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, had a knee injury, but coach Todd Golden was exciting that he was getting him back for this NCAA Tournament games. But then, in Monday's practice, Massalski re-injured the knee, and has been ruled out.
This leaves San Francisco in a rough situation, so maybe we'll see more long-range shots from Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz, who average 31 points between them. And the presence of Julian Rishwain (45% from downtown) takes on added meaning. Will that work? It's difficult to lose your big man and still make things happen. Masalski was one of the top defensive rebounders in the college game, and the Dons have to hold Murray State off the offensive glass (11th best in the nation in that category).
We'd probably feel better about San Francisco if they had been able to break through against the good teams in the WCC, and if they had their big man. But they don't, and so we like Murray State.
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