It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’ve got your back. We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.
1. Gonzaga (32-1, 17-1/WCC)– Different year, same questions about the Zags. This year’s group looks like perhaps the most talented and together squad that Mark Few has had. Not only did this team steamroll the rest of the WCC, winning by an average of 23 points per game, it also knocked off Florida, Iowa State, and Arizona in the non-conference portion of its schedule.
Gonzaga’s only loss came late in the season, at the hands of BYU. The ‘Zags dominated St. Mary’s, its only other real competition since early December, in three meetings, including beating the Gaels 74-56 in the West Coast Conference championship game.
This is a high-scoring bunch that put up 84.6 points per game, 13th-best in the nation. 6-3 Nigel Williams-Goss, the conference player of the year, led the Bulldogs in scoring at 16.9 per, while Przemek Karnowski, a 7-1, 300-pound load underneath, contributed 12.6 ppg and 6 boards per game.
They’ve got a capable three-point shooter in Jordan Matthews, and two other guys (Jordan Collins and Johnathan Williams) who average in double figures in scoring.
Is this the year Gonzaga finally breaks through and reaches the Final Four?
It’s going to be tough.
Notre Dame, which is much more battle-tested and can score with the Zags, could easily knock them out in the Sweet 16, as could West Virginia. Florida State also has the size and talent to get the job done in the Elite Eight.
Our pick to come out of this region is Arizona, and even though the Wildcats have had their own struggles in getting to the Final Four under Sean Miller, we like their talent and big-game experience heading into March.