The Gonzaga Bulldogs always seem to be a contender once March rolls around. Things have changed this year, and a loss to St. Mary's tonight could seal their fate.

For 12 straight years, Head Coach Mark Few has guided the Zags into the NCAA Tournament. This streak could end tonight on the road at the St. Mary's Gaels in what is one of the most intense battles of the nights NCAA basketball matchups.

It's All About Payback for Gonzaga

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have already lost three conference games this season, two of the three of which came on the road. It exacted its revenge on both the Santa Clara Broncos and the San Francisco Dons without any hassles. However, the third loss, the one that came at home against these Gaels, is going to be a significantly tougher task to overcome.

The good news for Few and company is that they are starting to catch some fire at the right time. Since that loss to St. Mary's back on January 27, the only loss came at home against the Memphis Tigers. The team has posted six straight victories in the WCC, winning those six games by an average margin of victory of 15.2 PPG.

Keep an eye on Marquise Carter, who is suddenly coming out of nowhere to put up some huge numbers. Sure, he is only averaging 5.1 PPG this season, but he has scored 38 points combined in his last two games at home against San Fran and Santa Clara.

Struggling Gaels Need 'W' As Well

St. Mary's GaelsWe all know that Gonzaga is sitting firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble and likely needs to either win this game or the WCC Tournament to get into the field of 68, but thanks to some recent woes, all of a sudden, St. Mary's might find itself in the exact same boat.

The Gaels have now come up short in two straight games and nary could afford a three game skid this late in the season with the eyes of the Selection Committee watching at their closest.

In losses against the San Diego Toreros and the Utah State Aggies, the offense for St. Mary's was just off, scoring 65 and 66 points respectively in the two games.

Needless to say, this is a trend that now dates pretty far back this season. There has only been one game with more than 79 points scored since January 15, and in that stretch, the team has come down from averaging nearly 85 PPG thanks to just an average of 72.0 PPG in these 10 duels. The Gaels are just 6-4 SU and 2-7-1 against the NCAA Basketball odds in this run of poor form.

Stacking Up the NCAA Basketball Odds

The oddsmakers have really had no choice but to make the St. Mary's Gaels short 3 1/2 point favorites on Thursday, but we know that the right play is on Gonzaga.

The Zags have lost their last two meetings with St. Mary's, the first of which came just about a month ago, and the second of which came in the finale in the West Coast Conference Tournament last year. Not only can you bet that they aren't going to want to give up control of their own fate for the regular season title, but the Bulldogs are going to want to get back on top of this conference once and for all to avenge that conference title game defeat last season.

My Pick: Gonzaga beats the NCAA basketball betting lines on Thursday and marches one step closer to March Madness