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...

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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.

The starters
Pos Player Ht. Yr. PPG RPG APG
F Elias Harris 6-8 So. 12.2 5.9 1.4
C Robert Sacre 7-0 Jr. 12.4 6.3 1.2
G Steven Gray 6-5 Sr. 13.8 3.9 3.9
G Marquise Carter 6-2 Jr. 6.5 1.5 2.0
G Demetri Goodson 6-0 Jr 5.4 2.9 2.6
The bench
F Sam Dower 6-9 Jr. 7.6 3.2 0.4
F Kelly Olynyk 7-0 So. 5.8 3.9 0.8
G David Stockton 5-11 Fr. 4.3 1.3 2.1

Brigham Young

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.

The starters
Pos Player Ht. Yr. PPG RPG APG
F Charles Abouo 6-5 Jr. 7.3 4.9 0.8
C Noah Hartsock 6-8 Jr. 8.5 6.0 1.6
G Jimmer Fredette 6-2 Sr. 28.6 3.5 4.3
G Jackson Emery 6-3 Sr. 12.5 3.6 2.6
G Kyle Collinsworth 6-6 Fr. 5.8 4.7 2.1
The bench
F Logan Magnusson 6-6 Sr. 2.1 2.5 0.5
F Stephen Rogers 6-8 So. 3.9 2.1 0.4
C James Anderson 6-10 Jr. 1.1 1.3 0.2

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.

Bud Withers