After knocking off the No. 4 seed West Virginia Mountaineers in the Sweet 16, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are looking to win it all. The Bulldogs are the No. 1 seed in the West and are really coming on strong. Gonzaga compiled a regular season record of 32-1 and is looking as determined as it has all year long.
The matchup with the Xavier Musketeers will be as difficult a game as the Zags have played all year. This Xavier team is tough, gritty and has shown that they want to be in this tournament. Several key points to the Zags winning this game is to eliminate second-chance opportunities for the Musketeers, find a way to ignite their stagnant offense and shut down Trevon Bluiett. Bluiett burned the Arizona Wildcats in their Sweet Sixteen matchup, scoring 25 points in his 36 minutes
The defense is legit
Gonzaga takes more pride in its defense more than most other teams in the country. The Zags rely heavily on defensive stops to create fast break opportunities and spark their slow offense. This can become an issue the farther they go into the tournament, but can also be a great advantage. The Bulldogs are allowing only 61 points per game on average, which will help slow down many fast-paced teams.
However, the offense can lull behind
One of Gonzaga’s possible downfalls is offensive production. The leading scorer for the Zags is junior Nigel Williams-Goss, who is only averaging 16.5 points per game. This can be an issue when their defense cannot keep up with the pure scoring mentality of some other teams in the tournament. One shining star that can brighten the horizon is the post play that the Zags can produce. Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins are both seven-footers who can absolutely dominate in the lane against any team in the nation. Both are averaging over 10 points and five rebounds per game.
Overall, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are a tough matchup for any team left in this tournament. Their size is an advantage, their defense is outstanding and their coach is about as good as they come. In their Elite Eight game with Xavier, the Zags will shine bright and have a great shot at finally getting that elusive Final Four bid.
Edited by Quinn Pilkey