2017 NCAA Tournament Preview: West Virginia Mountaineers vs Gonzaga Bulldogs

Game Time: 7:39 PM EST

Location: SAP Center, San José, CA

TV: TBS

Spread: Gonzaga -3, O/U 149

 

West Virginia Mountaineers(28-8, 12-6 Big XII)

West Virginia is at it again, the Mountaineers are back in the Sweet 16, for the sixth time out of their last ten appearances in the tournament. Bob Huggins might have his best team he has ever had at WVU and is looking to go to their third Final Four and second National Title game. The Mountaineers have never won it all though and have a tough path to get there in playing Gonzaga.

Unless you live under a rock or don’t follow P5 teams, then you know that West Virginia runs a very dangerous press defense.  It not only forces a lot of turnovers, but it is really fun to watch(unless they are playing your favorite team, of course). Opposing teams struggle and turn the ball over all the time, they just can’t solve the press. They’ve forced 366 this season and average just over 10 steals a game.

Players to watch for West Virginia:

Junior guard Jevon Carter: Not only is this guy almost impossible to guard and scores with ease, he kills you in every statistical category. He averages just over 13 PPG,  just under 5 RPG, and just under 4 APG.

Senior forward Nathan Adrian: Just another stat sheet stuffer, the senior averages just under 10 PPG, 6 RPG, and just under 3 APG. He had an off game in the round of 32 against Notre Dame(1-3 shooting for three points) so look for him to turn it up against the Zags.

Gonzaga Bulldogs(34-1, 17-1 WCC)

Is this the year? Will they make their first Final Four ever? They will have their hands full with the Mountaineers Thursday night in San José.

The Zags are coming off a controversial game against Northwestern that saw Gonzaga blow an 18 point halftime lead, a missed goaltending call that could have changed the game, and a tech on Northwestern’s head coach after he stormed the court in anger about the missed goaltending call.

The game was crazy, strange, and puzzling. Missed calls made by refs that shocked the nation(except Gonzaga fans), but the Zags won and are more than deserving to be here.

Players to watch for Gonzaga:

Senior center Przemek Karnowski: The 7’1, 300 lbs Polish beast averages 12.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 1 BPG. He scores, is a scary presence when the other team tries to come into the paint, he can do it all, except shoot the three ball (0-0 on the year, but he’s 7’1 and 300 lbs, what do you expect?).

Junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss: The Washington transfer has had no letdown, he averaged 14.5 PPG in two seasons in Seattle and has 16.7 PPG in his first year at Gonzaga. Goss not only leads the team in scoring, but he leads them in assists too(4.7 per game). I think he will have a big game and beat West Virginia’s press.

Prediction:

This is going to be a great game and I do not know how to call it. Both teams have weapons but can the Zags weapons handle the press? I’m unsure of that. Can West Virginia’s hot shooting continue? They scored 82.1 PPG during the season, but the Zags only give up 61.1. Each team matches were they other excels.

I think this will be a defensive battle, a lot of turnovers and poor shooting. It will come down to the last seconds and hopefully, the refs don’t ruin the moment. Nigel Williams-Goss will hit a clutch shot to send the Zags to the Elite 8 as they look to go to their first Final Four in school history.

West Virginia 55- Gonzaga 56

 

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