The two top-ranked teams in the country, #1 Gonzaga and #2 Baylor, play in the Jimmy V Classic today at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Baylor faces a tough test against #5 Illinois and Ayo Dosunmu, while Gonzaga squares off against #11 West Virginia.
Last season, the team ranked #1 was cursed. The top ranking changed hands multiple times within the first two months of the season. Once a team earned the top ranking, they were doomed to get upset later that week.
Gonzaga earned the top spot in the AP Top 25 preseason rankings. They had 28 first-place votes compared to Baylor’s 24. Baylor earned the #2 spot.
After winning their first three games of the season, Illinois jumped from #8 in the preseason poll to #5 in the most recent rankings for Week 2. West Virginia also had an auspicious 3-0 start, and saw their ranking improve from #18 to #11.
Illinois finds themselves in an enviable spot where they could conceivably pick off the top two teams in the country in the same tournament. The same goes for West Virginia.
On the flip side, we’ll find out what Gonzaga and Baylor are all about. Are they really the premier teams in the country? Or just an overrated figment of the media’s imagination?
West Virginia vs Gonzaga: Timme Time
Last year’s Gonzaga team went 30-2 and ended the season with the #2 ranking when it was cut short due to the pandemic. They had earned a #1 seed in March Madness before the tourney’s cancellation.
Big man Drew Timme, a 6-foot-10 sophomore, is the big dog for the Zags this season, averaging 26.5 points and eight rebounds per game. Timme came off the bench as a freshman averaging 9.8 ppg and 5.4 rebounds.
Swingman Corey Kispert, a 6-foot-7 senior, is the elder statesman on this year’s team. He averages 24 points per game (up from 13.9 ppg from last season). Freshman Jalen Suggs earned a starting spot as the point guard. He’s the team’s third-best scorer with 18 points, seven assists, and four rebounds per game.
Gonzaga covered both of its games (Kansas and Auburn) so far with a 2-0 ATS record.
|#11 West Virginia (3-0) at #1 Gonzaga (2-0)|
- Tip-off: 4pm PT
- Point Spread: GONZ -9
- Total: 156.5 o/u
- Moneyline: WV +330 / GON -410
Miles McBride, a sophomore guard, leads West Virginia in scoring with 16.3 points and 3.3 assists per game. Derek Culver, a 6-foot-10 power forward, averages 15 points, 19 rebounds, and two blocks per game.
West Virginia won all three games during their championship run at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic hosted over Thanksgiving weekend. The Mountaineers picked off South Dakota State, Virginia Commonwealth, and Western Kentucky.
West Virginia is 2-1 ATS this season, but they barely covered in their last two games. They allowed SDSU to backdoor cover against them in the season opener.
The under hit twice in three games for West Virginia.
Illinois vs Baylor: Can Bears Stop Ayo Dosunmu?
Baylor head coach Scott Drew is blessed with three stellar guards, Jared Butler, Macio Teague, and Adam Flagler. They were a huge reason why Baylor went 26-4 last season and ranked #5 in the country.
Butler, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, leads the Bears with 18.5 points, six rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Teague, a 6-foot-4 senior, averages 18 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Flagler, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, averaged 14.5 points and four assists per game. He’s shooting 55% from the floor, including 50% from 3-point range.
Baylor out-gunned their opponents (ULL and UW) by an average of 32 points. They covered both games, including a 21-point spread against ILL.
|#5 Illinois (3-0) vs #2 Baylor (2-0)|
- Tip-off: 7pm PT
- Point Spread: Baylor -4
- Total: 143 o/u
- Money Line: ILL +160 / BAY -190
Ayo Dosunmu, a 6-foot-5 junior guard from Chicago, leads Illinois with 25.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.7 points per game. Dosunmu, the most exciting player in the Jimmy V Classic, could have gone pro and declared for the 2020 NBA Draft, but returned to Champaign for another season. Adam Miller, a 6-foot-3 freshman guard from Peoria, averages 18 points on 59.8% shooting. Kofi Cockburn, a 7-foot-0 center from Jamaica, averages 15 points, 11.7 rebounds, and one block per game.
Illinois survived a potential upset against Ohio over Thanksgiving weekend. The Fighting Illini squeaked out a 77-75 victory thanks to 27 points from Dosunmu.
Illinois is just 1-1 ATS this season, but they covered a whopping 42.5-point line against Chicago State in a 97-38 blowout.