4:45 p.m. Saturday in Denver (Ch. 7) Record: 25-9 overall, 11-3 in West Coast Conference (T1st). Seed: 11. RPI: 56. Bid: Automatic. Tournament record: 16-13. Best...
4:45 p.m. Saturday in Denver (Ch. 7)
Record: 25-9 overall, 11-3 in West Coast Conference (T1st).
Seed: 11. RPI: 56. Bid: Automatic.
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Tournament record: 16-13. Best finish was in 1999, when it played in the Elite Eight.
Last tournament experience: 2010 (lost in 2nd round to Syracuse).
What the Zags have to do to win: Defensively, the chore is to slow down BYU’s non-pareil guard, Jimmer Fredette, who mostly hurt Wofford on Thursday night with drives to the basket. But an over-concentration on Fredette can lead to damage from some other less-heralded Cougars. On offense, the Zags hope to use their size and athleticism to impose themselves.
Record: 31-4 overall, 14-2 in Mountain West Conference (T1st).
Seed: 3. RPI: 5. Bid: At-large.
Tournament record: 13-28. Best finishes were final-eight appearances in 1950, 1951 and 1981.
Last tournament appearance: 2010 (lost in 2nd round to Kansas State).
What the Cougars have to do to win: BYU must maximize Fredette’s impact, both individually and with his teammates, taking advantage of Gonzaga overplays on the senior All-American. Defensively, Cougars must be active within their zone, deny Gonzaga inside and do a good job covering GU shooters, who were 9 of 15 from three against St. John’s.
Who has the edge?
On the perimeter: Fredette can penetrate or pull up from 30 feet and fire; he shoots a hair under 40 percent on threes. Emery is a nice complement, the defensive player of the year in the MWC, but his offense has struggled lately. Collinsworth is a versatile, helpful player who provides solid defense. Zags’ guard play keyed late-season run. Gray was big vs. St. John’s, while Carter has been a revelation down the stretch. Edge: BYU.
Among the bigs: Hartsock poses problems by stepping out for perimeter shots (41.5 percent on threes). Abouo is BYU’s best athlete, a good rebounder but prone to foul problems. Sacre had difficulty finishing shots against St. John’s but he’s a physical force, while the dynamic Harris has played better down the stretch, including a strong effort against St. John’s. Dower is a young, back-to-the-basket presence who can score. Edge: Gonzaga.
First off the bench: Magnusson, who plays in the middle of BYU’s 3-2 zone at times on the back line, surprised Wofford by making a couple of perimeter shots. Likewise, Rogers can drift outside, and Anderson provides length in spot minutes. The Zags have a deep bench, with Dower helping greatly, and Stockton should be able to contribute more than he did against a quick St. John’s team. This might even be a time when GU turns to 6-6 sophomore Mike Hart, a defensive specialist, to try to lasso Fredette. Edge: Gonzaga.
Coach: This is GU coach Mark Few’s 12th straight NCAA tournament, a collegiate record for starting a career. BYU’s Dave Rose has done an impressive job in Provo, with a 78-18 record in MWC games in six years. Edge: Gonzaga.
Prediction: Fredette is the X factor here. If the Zags can keep him at his scoring average and not sustain major damage elsewhere, they can move on. Gonzaga, 83-77.