Gonzaga Bulldogs: 4 Stats to Know from Friday’s Win Over Saint John’s

14

14—points scored by post player Domantas Sabonis. The freshman is second on the team in scoring with 12 points per game and leads the team in rebounding with 6.7 boards per game. This was the fifth different game in which Gonzaga had a different leading scorer.

Four

Four—the minimal number of rebounds for each Gonzaga starter.

One

One—number of Gonzaga starters who failed to score in double figures. That one starter was Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer poured in 32 against Georgia in the semi-final.

Five

Five—points by freshman guard Silas Melson. Melson was forced into burning his redshirt after Josh Perkins suffered a broken jaw. The guard played in 11 minutes and showed promise.

5 Stats from Gonzaga’s Win over St. Thomas Aquinas

Four

Four—number of players who scored 17 or more points. These players included Kyle Wiltjer and Byron Wesley as well as Angel Nunez and Domantas Sabonis.

2

Combined points by point guards Kevin Pangos and Josh Perkins. However, the duo combined for 14 assists.

41.2

41.2—the percentage of three pointers made by GU.

Seven

Seven—number of field goals missed by Wiltjer, Wesley, Nunez and Sabonis. The four combined for 82 points and outscored St. Thomas Aquinas by 27 by themselves.

24

24—points by senior Angel Nunez, easily a career high.

Gonzaga Bulldogs: 5 Stats to Know from Win over SMU

Here are five stats to know following Gonzaga’s 72-56 win over SMU on Monday.

10

10—the number of three point field goals made by Gonzaga, five of which came from point guard Kevin Pangos. GU also made 10 threes in their opening win over Sacramento State.

31

31—total points contributed by newcomers. Transfers Kyle Wiltjer and Byron Wesley combined for 14 while freshman Josh Perkins and Domantas Sabonis combined for 17 points off the bench. The four players also combined for 21 rebounds and eight assists.

17

17—points scored by potential All-America guard Pangos. Gonzaga has a plethora of scoring options, meaning it could be Wiltjer one night and shooting guard Gary Bell Jr. the next night. Monday happened to be Pangos’ time to shine.

13.5

13.5—points per game by crafty freshman big man Sabonis. The big man has showed good footwork in the post and will only continue to improve. Coming off the bench, he’s nearly registered a double-double in both games this season.

16

16—the winning margin. The final score may have had GU winning by 16, but don’t let it fool you, the game was over by midway through the second half. Gonzaga probably should have won by 20 or more.

Picking the Field: NCAA Tournament Predictions – And Yes, I Have Gonzaga Winning it All

Last year I wrote a terribly long essay on my NCAA “Picks to Clicks.” (In hindsight, that title is grammatically screwed up. Alas what a year of writing can do for you’re grammer skills.)

This year I won’t bore you with the reasons why Notre Dame will beat Iowa State (Notre Dame wins the game by the way) or why Louisville will beat Western Kentucky (see Sheen, Charlie: Um… Duhhh.) But I will share most of my latter tournament predictions and such. Which will all end with Gonzaga cutting down the nets in Atlanta.

These are my non-chalk picks in the first round, or the round after 60 teams get a “bye”-

  1. Play-in Winner (11 Seed) over Memphis. Memphis statistically is all ginger peachy with a pass happy team (4th in the country in assists per game), a solid offense (21st in points per game) and a decent rebounding squad (39th in the land in boards per game.) However none of this, or all, not exactly sure, contributes to the fact that the Tigers lost almost every meaningful game they played in. Yes, they beat the living daylights out of Conference USA, but it’s CONFERENCE USA. They get the daylights beat out of them by lots of teams. Memphis’ quality competition this year included Louisville (lost by 9), Minnesota (lost by 9 again), VCU (lost by 12), Xavier (lost by two) and Tennessee (won by 5.) HEY LOOK THEY BEat… oh, that’s right. The Vols were left out in favor of La Salle and Middle Tennessee State. I’m writing this before the play-in game and posting it after. Probably not smart, but I’m picking St. Mary’s to win that one. I’ve seen a lot of the Gaels recently, and they are quite good. Even if Middle Tennessee were to win, I think they stand a good chance to knock out the Tigers.
  2. Belmont (11 seed, again I know) over Arizona (6 seed). Belmont strength: shooting the lights out from three. Arizona weakness: defending the three. Yep.
  3. Colorado (10) over Illinois (7). These games are nearly just as close as the 8-9 games in terms of determining a winner. Colorado’s prowess on the glass should help subdue a small Illini team.
  4. Temple (9) over NC State (8). And the coin landed tails.
  5. Minnesota (11) over UCLA (6). I really do not like six seeds so far. Regardless, Minnesota is a very athletic team that reached nowhere near its ceiling this year. UCLA will have issues. (If you’re counting along at home, Butler is the only six seed left in the field. Woohoo!) (See veiled attempt at sarcasm.)

 

Moving on to my non-chalk picks in the next round-

  1. Oklahoma State (5) over Saint Louis (4). This one is a massive upset. I mean, talk about Cinderella. Oh, what’s that? Right… A five seed over a four seed. How many times has that happened? Answer — a lot. These games can sometimes be like an 8/9 matchup in the second round, however I think Oklahoma State will come out on top. Really good players have a tendency to carry a team on their backs while shooting the lights out versus their opponents. Synonym: Marcus Smart’s performance in this game.
  2. Butler (6) over Marquette (3). There is just something about Butler. I don’t think they will make it to the Final Four. In fact, I have them losing to Miami in the next round, but Butler has a tendency to play with magic on their side. See the two tournament runs as well as their win over Gonzaga earlier this year.
  3. San Diego State (7) over Georgetown (2). I think Otto Porter, Jr. is a great college basketball player. However I’ve seen A Hoya game or two where he’s the only player on the team in double figures. I like the Aztecs in an upset especially if they can lock down Porter. Georgetown also has the 247th ranked scoring and rebounding team in the country. San Diego State.
  4. VCU (5) over Michigan (4). Michigan hasn’t won back-to-back games since January. Point VCU.

 

Non Chalk Sweet Sixteen Picks- None. Just as a refresher, here’s who I have in the Round of Sixteen.

Sweet Sixteen Picks-

 

Midwest-

1 Louisville over 5 Oklahoma State.

2 Duke over 3 Michigan State.

 

West-

1 Gonzaga over 4 Kansas State. (Fun fact, GU beat Kansas State by 16 on a neutral floor already this year. Funny.)

2 Ohio State over 3 New Mexico.

 

East-

1 Indiana over 4 Syracuse.

2 Miami over 6 Butler.

 

South-

1 Kansas over 5 VCU.

3 Florida over 7 San Diego State.

 

Final Four Picks-

It’s almost all chalk in the Final Four for me. I have Gonzaga, Louisville, Kansas and… Miami as the last four teams left standing. I’m taking the ‘Canes over Indiana for a simple reason. Indiana struggles against really good defensive teams. The half of the Hoosiers’ losses that weren’t decided by one possession were to Wisconsin and Ohio State. Both good defensive squads. Miami also happens to be a good defensive squad.

In the actual games in Atlanta I have Gonzaga meeting Kansas in the national title game with Gonzaga winning. The Zags went 5-0 versus the Big 12 this year, and the topic of them actually playing Kansas has been broached by many a pundit. Here’s GU’s chance.

NCAA Tournament Picks to Clicks

March Madness is back. Christmas has come back early in March. None the less, the Madness is here again.

Here’s what you need to know when you fill out the brackets:

  1. Curious seeding to look out for. Some teams are grossly (for lack of a better term) under or over seeded. The unders include Detroit, Long Beach State, and Creighton. The overs include the likes of Notre Dame, West Virginia and Virginia. (If you’ll notice, my under-seeded teams are all Mid-Majors and all my over-seeded teams are High-Majors. Just a thought.)
  2. The 8-9 is almost a coin flip. The two seeds that are closest to each other are generally the most difficult to pick.
  3. Never pick 16 seeds. A 16 seed has never, never beat a 1.
  4. 2s are a little tougher story. We’ve seen close 2-15 games in the past a la Robert Morris-Villanova. Don’t expect any upsets this year, but Detroit might give Kansas some problems.
  5. Vanderbilt could lose to Harvard. Yes, frankly any team could lose, but Vandy has lost as a 4 or 5 seed in the past couple tourneys. The Commodores could lose, but after nipping Kentucky in the SEC title game, they likely will win here.
  6. Some teams should be overly happy to be in the tournament. These squads would be BYU, Virginia and West Virginia.
  7. Upset Alert:  Watch out this year for double digit squads such as Cal, Montana, New Mexico State, Iona and Long Beach State as potential bracket busters.
  8. Potential third round trip ups- (I had “second round stumbles” written in, but with the new play in games and everything it doesn’t make sense. There goes my over-thought-out alliteration. ) Anyways, UConn, or frankly Iowa State, could give Kentucky a lot of problems in the round of 32. Jim Calhoun’s team has a lot of size up front to combat national POY candidate Anthony Davis and the Wildcats. Florida, providing they take care of Virginia, has the potential to upset Missouri in the next round. Missouri supposedly has the easiest path to New Orleans because they don’t have a lot of teams in their bracket with a lot of size. That being said, Florida can easily fight fire with fire and beat the Tigers at their own game with a Sweet Sixteen birth on the line. Gonzaga’s size has the potential to really worry Ohio State in Pittsburgh should the matchup present itself. Physically, the Zags have size to deal with Jared Sullinger and the Buckeye frontline while they have the guard play to match up with OSU’s talented back court.
  9. Cinderella? VCU, George Mason, Butler, Gonzaga. Almost every tournament has a Cinderella. This year’s potential Cinderella’s include the aforementioned Zags, Montana, Memphis, Long Beach State, Detroit and Belmont.

 

Here is my first round, and rest of tournament picks to click:

In the first round I have Western Kentucky prevailing over Mississippi Valley State, Lamar over Vermont, Cal over the Bulls of South Florida and Iona over BYU.

South-

(I try to stay away from all chalk. Emphasize try.) Here are the picks:

1 Kentucky over 16 WKU

  • Just too much for WKU. Kentucky in a rout.

8 Iowa State over 9 UConn

  • Royce White will give the defending champs all kinds of matchup nightmares. ISU’s three-point barrage could bury the Huskies.

5 Wichita State over 12 VCU

  • Last year’s Cinderella team will have trouble against a very complete Wichita State squad.

4 Indiana over 13 NMSU

  • Cody Zeller and Wendell McKines will be quiet a battle down low. Expect Zeller and the Hoosiers to come out on top, but don’t be surprised if the Aggies move on to the round of 32.

6 UNLV over 11 Colorado

  • Las Vegas is very complete and has the potential to go far in the tournament on the back of Mike Moser. Expect a UNLV win.

3 Baylor over 14 South Dakota State

  • Nate Wolters has the chance to go bananas, and he probably will, but Baylor has too much size and talent across the board to lose.

10 Xavier over 7 Notre Dame

  • Kenny Frease could have a big game against more of a perimeter-relying Notre Dame team. X will win.

2 Duke over 15 Lehigh

  • The Blue Devils have too much talent everywhere you look. Get ready Xavier.

West-

Moving down to the West, there’s more chalk. Sadly.

1 Michigan State over 16 LIU

  • LIU will come to play, but Draymond Green, and the Spartans are too much.

8 Memphis over 9 Saint Louis

  • Expect to see a lot of Joe Jackson and the Tigers talented wing players in a win over the Bilikins.

5 New Mexico over 12 LBSTU

  • Dan Monson’s team will put up a fight, expect a close one, but in the end Drew Gordon and New Mexico will prevail.

4 Louisville over 13 Davidson

  • Davidson has beaten Kansas and played Duke tough, but Seattle native Peyton Siva and Co. will win in a close-ish one.

6 Murray State over 11 Colorado State

  • The Racers kill teams with their three pointers. Making almost 41 percent of them (40.6), which incidentally is what Colorado State is most vulnerable to.

3 Marquette over 14 Iona

  • Iona gets here after their excellent guards presumably tear up the Cougars, who have struggled against top notch guards (see Kevin Pangos’s 30 points against BYU). The Golden Eagles are susceptible to Iona’s tendency to force turnovers, but expect a Marquette win.

7 Florida over 10 Virginia

  • The Gators attack lead by Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal will probably struggle early against Tony Bennett’s tenacious-like D, but Florida will hit their groove eventually and win.

2 Missouri over 15 Norfolk State

  • Ricardo Ratliffe might struggle against 6”10 defensive presence Kyle O’Quinn, but Kim English and all of Mizzou’s perimeter threats will overwhelm Norfolk State.

East-

I deviate from the all-chalk field in the slightest here.

1 Syracuse over 16 UNC Ashville

  • UNC Ashville will play Syracuse tight. They will lose, but not by any 50 points.

8 Kansas State over 9 Southern Miss

  • A balanced Southern Miss team will have its hands full with an intense Frank Martin squad. Expect KSU to win by somewhere in the neighborhood of 13.

5 Vanderbilt over 12 Harvard

  • Vandy has lost to Richmond, Murray State and Sienna in their last 3 tourneys as 4 or 5 seeds. Might be a trap game, or Vandy will win in comfortable fashion.  Vanderbilt wins. That’s the underlying theme.

13 Montana over 4 Wisconsin

  • One word describes the Badgers offense. Stagnant. And that’s just how it will play out with Montana getting to the round of 32.

6 Cincy over 11 Texas

  • Cincinnati is peaking at the right time. Expect a comfortable win for Mick Cronin’s team.

3 Florida State over 14 St. Bonaventure

  • St. Bonaventure will give the Seminoles all they can, but in the end, future pro Andrew Nicholson and the Bonnies won’t have enough.

7 Gonzaga over 10 West Virginia

  • The Zags have the defensive stalwarts (read Gary Bell Jr and Rob Sacre) to stop the Mountaineers two-man show of Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant.

2 Ohio State over 15 Loyola MD

  • Loyola will try, but in the end they won’t be able to match up with Ohio State’s size and perimeter threats.

Midwest-

A lot less chalk to put it plainly.

1 UNC over Lamar

  • The worst group of Seniors Pat Knight has ever seen will end their college careers with a loss to the Tar Heels.

8 Creighton over 9 Alabama

  • Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs will power the Blue Jays to a win over a struggling offensive Alabama squad.

12 Cal over 5 Temple

  • Jorge Gutierrez and the other Golden Bears are too good for USF and will prevail against Temple as well.

4 Michigan over 13 Ohio

  • Ohio will have a chance if they can make Michigan die by the three. However, if Michigan lives by the three. Ehhh. No gratitude for Ohio from Ohio State for losing to the Wolverines

11 NC State over 6 San Diego State

  • NC State’s talent will show out as CJ Leslie will have a huge game in the classic 11-6 upset. If Leslie doesn’t show up, watch out, SDST might win.

14 Belmont over 3 Georgetown

  • Belmont lost to Duke by one. Surely the Hoyas don’t scare them. Belmont’s three pointers will absolutely sink Georgetown if the buckets are falling. If not, the Bears might be in for a long day on the glass.

7 St. Mary’s over 10 Purdue

  • Mathew Dellavadova is good enough to propel the Gaels to a win, but the Gaels might have trouble with a bigger team in the future (read Kansas). As an aside, does anyone else notice that Dellavadova’s mouth guard looks like a block of mozzarella cheese? Just thought I’d point that out.

2 Kansas over 15 Detroit

  • Ray McCallum and friends will play Kansas very tough, but expect to see the Jayhawks win it.

So, to recap, my round of 32 looks like this in each region:

South-

1 Kentucky vs 8 Iowa State

5 Wichita State vs 4 Indiana

6 UNLV vs 3 Baylor

10 Xavier vs 2 Duke

West-

1 Michigan State vs 8 Memphis

5 New Mexico vs 4 Louisville

6 Murray State vs 3 Marquette

7 Florida vs 2 Missouri

East-

1 Syracuse vs 8 Kansas State

5 Vanderbilt vs 13 Montana

6 Cincy vs 3 Florida State

7 Gonzaga vs 2 Ohio State

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 8 Creighton

12 Cal vs 4 Michigan

11 NCST vs 14 Belmont

7 St. Mary’s vs 2 Kansas

 

Now to whittle it down to the Sweet Sixteen

South-

1 Kentucky over 8 Iowa State

  • Royce White will probably go off, but it won’t likely be enough. If the Cyclones can hit 3s, watch out. Upset brewing.

5 Wichita State over 4 Indiana

  • Tyler Zeller again does battle with another quality post as he checks Garret Stultz. Expect a close one, but in the end the experienced Shockers will win.

3 Baylor over 6 UNLV

  • Mike Moser will be big, but Baylor’s athleticism will win out in a comfortable victory for the Bears.

2 Duke over 10 Xavier

  • X will be a tough out for the Blue Devils, but expect Coach K’s young guards to get a hold on Tu Holloway as Duke gets the win.

West- 

1 Michigan State over 8 Memphis

  • The Tiger’s athleticism and ability will help them, but only so far against Draymond Green and the Spartans. Spoiler alert- don’t be surprised if Green pulls a Jimmer or Stephen Curry on us and carries the Spartans deep in the tourney on his back.

5 New Mexico over 4 Louisville

  • Drew Gordon and friends will face a challenge with the Cardinals D, but New Mexico will rally.

3 Marquette over 6 Murray State

  • This Cinderella story ends for Murray State. The Golden Eagles are too talented, possibly Elite Eight talented.

2 Missouri over 7 Florida

  • Expect a tight one. Florida will play Missouri like Missouri. In other words, expect two similar teams battling it out. Don’t be overly shocked if Billy Donovan’s team pulls it off.

East-

1 Syracuse over 8 Kansas State

  • I may be contradicting upset special here, but the Wildcats might be prone to an ugly one.

5 Vanderbilt over 13 Montana

  • Montana will play hard, but Vandy’s experience will oust the Grizzlies.

3 Florida State over 6 Cincy

  • The Bearcats are victims to a streaking Florida State team that will clamp down anyone with their defense.

7 Gonzaga over 2 Ohio State

  • To quote Charles Barkley, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.” The Zags have the size and talent to match up with most teams in the country. If freshmen backcourt duo of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr are on, “then it’s gonna be an upset special BABY!” (Dicke V voice)

Midwest-

1 UNC over 8 Creighton

  • Everyone is going to see high school teammates and star players go at it as Doug McDermott takes on Harrison Barnes. Expect the latter team to prevail.

4 Michigan over 12 Cal

  • The Wolverines are still living off the three as it is. Cal won’t go quietly either.

11 NCST over 14 Belmont

  • Belmont’s magic just runs out versus the Wolf Pack.

2 Kansas over 7 St. Mary’s

  • The Jayhawks are too good to lose. At least not yet.

And now, here is the all-important, hypothetical Sweet Sixteen! (cue corny trumpets in the backround)

South-

1 Kentucky vs 5 Wichita State

2 Duke vs 3 Baylor

West-

1 Michigan State vs 5 New Mexico

2 Missouri vs 3 Marquette

East-

1 Syracuse vs 5 Vanderbilt

3 Florida State vs 7 Gonzaga

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 4 Michigan

2 Kansas vs 11 NCST

 

We’ll start in the South where Kentucky has a tough draw with Wichita State.

South-

1 Kentucky over 5 Wichita State

  • This one could also be an upset special, but the Wildcats’ top rung talent will prevail in a hard-fought, close game.

2 Duke over 3 Baylor

  • I really like Duke for some reason. I know they will get a challenge with the Bears’ athleticism, but Duke is too balanced and too talented not to pull away. It will be close. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if this one went into OT or if Baylor won.

In the tradition of starting in the top left-hand corner, and moving down, here is the West.

West-

1 Michigan State over 5 New Mexico

  • The Spartans are still riding the Draymond Green factor. Expect a gritty game.

3 Marquette over 2 Missouri

  • Jae Crowder and the Golden Eagles will give Missouri some issues that they haven’t faced before, mainly a size problem.

Syracuse is probably the most vulnerable 1 seed in the Sweet Sixteen. Goliaths beware.

East-

5 Vanderbilt over 1 Syracuse

  • The Commodores have all the intangibles to upset a previously-stated vulnerable Cuse team.

7 Gonzaga over 3 Florida State

  • Even if Gonzaga doesn’t win, the winner of this game is my Final Four pick out of this region. The Noles could be riding high. Time to get knocked off their high horse.

The last region before the Elite Eight!!! (more corny trumpet noises….)

 

Midwest-

1 UNC over 4 Michigan

  • With John Henson back, the Tar Heels roll on.

2 Kansas over 11 NCST

  • The Wolf Pack will go down fighting to the last man, but KU wins.

That leaves us with the round of eight. More commonly capitalized and call Elite Eight.

South-

1 Kentucky vs 2 Duke

West-

1 Michigan State vs 3 Marquette

East-

5 Vanderbilt vs 7 Gonzaga

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 2 Kansas

 

South-

1 Kentucky over 2 Duke

  • The Blue Devils were able to deal with Baylor’s athletes. They won’t be able to handle Coach Cal’s. KU comfortably.

West-

1 Michigan State over 3 Marquette

  • Marquette will be too small of a team to matchup with Sparty. Yet another Final Four for Tom Izzo.

South-

7 Gonzaga over 5 Vanderbilt

  • Writing was on the wall. Or the last couple paragraphs, whatever sounds more eerie. The Original Cinderella finally gets its first Final Four.

Midwest-

1 UNC over 2 Kansas

  • Both could have been Number 1 seeds, but here we sit. T-Rob and the Jayhawks will battle, but UNC is far more talented across the board.

Now we get to the Final Four. One of the most cherished events in all of sports. (Unless of course your school got knocked out in the Elite Eight), this year’s event is in the Big Easy, and this will be anything but that.

South vs West

1 Kentucky vs 1 Michigan State

East vs Midwest

1 UNC vs 7 Gonzaga

The Predictions:

South vs West

1 Michigan State over 1 Kentucky

  • Coach Cal’s first title is going to have to wait. The Spartans will get a potential shot at revenge against UNC, for, you know that one tournament game a couple years back.

East vs Midwest

1 UNC over 7 Gonzaga

  • The Bulldogs bandwagon sadly stops here. The Tar Heels are much too talented. They will get their shot at MSU. Gonzaga misses a potential rematch against the Spartans, who they only lost by 7 to and could have easily won the game.

Title Game

1 Michigan State vs 1 UNC

Prediction:

1 Michigan State over 1 UNC

  • The Spartans get some payback for the aforementioned game as well as putting Draymond Green’s name in the same sentence as Jimmer, Curry and Farokmanesh.

So there you have it. Michigan State in a rematch. Unless someone else picks the exact same thing, then I’ll leave a final score prediction of 73-69 as a tie breaker of sorts.

Happy Bracket Scribbling Everyone!