After posting back-to-back upsets to start the tournament the No. 10 St. Mary’s Gaels have their eyes set on their first trip to the Elite Eight, but first they’ll need to post another upset over the No. 3 Baylor Bears in the Sweet 16.
St. Mary’s may have been seeded a little too low at No. 10, and their tournament results so far prove it. In the Sportsbook round they faced No. 7 Richmond as a 1.5-point odds underdog at Sportsbook and squashed the Spiders 80-71.
Omar Samhan had a huge game in the win with 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting and 12 rebounds. Mickey McConnell also delivered with 23 points and 5-of-9 shooting from three-point range.
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In the second round the Gaels were in tough against No. 2 Villanova, but they clocked the Wildcats 75-68 as a 4.5-point underdog. Samhan outdid his previous effort with 32 points on 13-of-16 shooting and McConnell poured in another 15 points. The inside-outside duo of Samhan and McConnell makes the Gaels tough to beat and could be the right combination to send them deeper into the tournament.
The Baylor Bears are a No. 3 seed for a reason, though, and won’t be an easy upset bid for the Gaels. Baylor started the tourney by knocking off Sam Houston State 68-59. The only problem for bettors was they failed to cover the 10-point spread.
They made up for that in the second round by trashing Old Dominion 76-68 as 4.5-point chalk. LaceDarius Dunn netted a game-high 26 points and Josh Lomer chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds. Baylor may have the right player to match up with St Mary’s Samhan in 6-10 center Ekpe Udoh.
If he can cause Samhan at least some problems the Bears could stop the Gaels’ upset run cold. Bettors seem to favor that scenario as the line has been bet up to -4.5 from an open of -3.5, meaning more people are betting Baylor.
St. Mary’s had never even been beyond the first round of the tournament before their magical run this season. In their last tournament appearance in 2008 they were knocked out by Miami in the Sportsbook round.
The Bears have been dogged in recent years by the scandal in 2003 that has hindered their recruiting abilities for years. Recovery finally has started in recent years, and in 2008 they made their first appearance in the tournament since 1988. That year they failed to get out of the first round after losing to No. 6 seed Purdue.
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