NCAA March Madness Preview – Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga Bulldogs

West Coast (32-1, 17-1)

by Joel Welser

In 2015 Gonzaga finally lived up to their expectations during the NCAA Tournament instead of just winning a game or two and bowing out gracefully when they run into a good team. The Bulldogs will hope to replicate that Elite Eight appearance. After a near perfect season in 2016-2017, they definitely have the seed and the momentum to make a run towards the Final Four.

Big Wins: 11/25 vs Florida (77-72), 12/3 vs Arizona (69-62), 2/11 at St. Mary’s (74-64)

Bad Losses: 2/25 BYU (71-79)

Coach: Mark Few

Why They Can Surprise:

Gonzaga appears to have taken the next step due to their defense. They have some shot blocking threats with Przemek Karnowski, Zach Collins and Johnathan Williams and the team as a whole has done a much better job making life difficult for opposing shooters. The frontcourt depth, which also includes freshman Killian Tillie, can do plenty of positive things offensively too. Karnowski averages 12.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and, at 7-1 and 300 pounds, is a massive force in the paint. Williams is a fine scorer too and has the range to occasionally step outside and knock down some mid-range jumpers. Collins will score a lot for a player who averages 17.1 minutes per game. The seven-foot freshman is getting better with every game and he is very good at getting to the free-throw line, and making those shots once he is there.

Why They Can Disappoint:

The four regulars on the perimeter deserve a lot of credit for the boost in defensive production too. Nigel Williams-Goss is the team’s top scorer, assist man and a very good rebounder, but he also leads the team in steals. Williams-Goss, a transfer from Washington, is one of the best slashers in the country. He can attack the basket effectively against any team.

Like Williams-Goss, Josh Perkins is a solid perimeter defender. Perkins and Jordan Mathews are the team’s top three-point shooting threats, but this is not a particularly strong shooting team. Williams-Goss will get his points, but against certain competition that Gonzaga will likely run into during the NCAA Tournament, they will have to stretch the defense in order to create space for everybody else in the paint. If the opposition can close the lane and make life tough for Williams-Goss slashing to the basket and Karnowski scoring in the paint, Gonzaga will be in trouble.

Probable Starters:

Nigel Williams-Goss, Junior, Guard, 16.9 ppg, 4.8 apg, 5.7 rpg

Jordan Mathews, Senior, Guard, 10.4 ppg, 1.6 apg

Josh Perkins, Sophomore, Guard, 8.4 ppg, 3.4 apg

Johnathan Williams, Junior, Forward, 10.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg

Przemek Karnowski, Senior, Center, 12.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Key Role Players:

Zach Collins, Freshman, Forward, 10.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg

Silas Melson, Junior, Guard, 7.6 ppg, 1.5 apg

Killian Tillie, Freshman, Forward, 4.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 85.2 (12th in nation, 1st in conference)

Scoring Defense: 61.1 (8, 2)

Field-Goal Percentage: 51.7 (2, 1)

Field-Goal Defense: 36.6 (2, 1)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.5 (156, 5)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.1 (50, 3)

Free-Throw Percentage: 73.4 (72, 3)

Rebound Margin: 8.0 (7, 2)

Assists Per Game: 16.3 (27, 2)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (46, 3)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 win over Seton Hall

2016    NCAA Round of 32 win over Utah

2016    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Syracuse

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over North Dakota State

2015    NCAA Round of 32 win over Iowa

2015    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over UCLA

2015    NCAA Regional Final loss to Duke

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Oklahoma State

2014    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Arizona

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Southern

2013    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Wichita State

2012    NCAA Round of 64 win over West Virginia

2012    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Ohio State

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over St. Johns

2011    NCAA Round of 32 loss to BYU

2010    NCAA Round of 64 win over Florida State

2010    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Syracuse

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Akron

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over Western Kentucky

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to North Carolina

2008    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Davidson

2007    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Indiana

*all team stats through 3/5

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