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Gonzaga vs. Texas Tech: Picks, predictions for March Madness Elite Eight matchup | NCAA Basketball

In case you haven’t purchased Gonzaga as a nationwide energy by now, you by no means will. So we’re executed promoting. The facts are what they are. This program is in its 21st consecutive NCAA Event, is the one one presently driving a five-year Candy 16 streak and now could be within the Elite Eight for the third time in 5 years.

These are outstanding achievements for a smallish non-public Jesuit college in a comparatively distant a part of the nation, they usually frustrate school basketball followers at a number of ranges. Followers of packages in mid-major leagues marvel why they will’t outgrow their common competitors in the best way the Zags have. Followers of big-time packages gripe that Gonzaga can earn excessive NCAA Event seeds whereas enjoying lesser competitors within the West Coast Convention.

A minimum of the Zags are observed, although.

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Texas Tech, in its third season under Beard, gained a share of the Huge 12 regular-season title and performed top-ranked Duke practically to a draw. But it surely stays tough for the Raiders to attract a fraction of the eye of their in-state rival Texas. The Raiders have by no means been to the Ultimate 4. That is their second consecutive season within the Elite Eight, and people are the one two journeys this deep into March in this system’s historical past.

The Tech-vs.-Zags showdown within the West might be a defensive battle first, with nice rewards to the victor.

Gonzaga, No. 1 seed

Coach: Mark Few (20 years)
General report: 33-3
Scoring chief: Rui Hachimura (20.1 ppg)
Rebounding chief: Brandon Clarke (8.four rpg)
Assists chief: Josh Perkins (6.5 apg)
Well-known non-athlete alum: Politician Tom Foley

Texas Tech, No. Three seed

Coach: Chris Beard (seven years, three at Texas Tech)
General report: 29-6
Scoring chief: Jarrett Culver (18.5 ppg)
Rebounding chief: Culver (6.Three rpg)
Assists chief: Culver (3.7 apg)
Well-known non-athlete alum: Singer John Denver

Greatest particular person matchup

Gonzaga C Brandon Clarke vs. Texas Tech PF Tariq Owens. Each gamers had been among the many semifinalists for the Naismith Defensive Participant of the 12 months award. Owens has blocked 2.four photographs per sport, together with eight in a December victory over Memphis. Clarke averages 3.1, getting 5 in every of the previous two NCAA Event video games. Clarke is a way more efficient offensive participant, so the extra significant a part of this showdown might be how properly Owens retains Clarke away from the offensive glass and takes away the potential for game-breaking lob passes.

Most eye-popping stat

This sport matches the No. 1 offense in effectivity (Gonzaga) and the No. 1 protection (Texas Tech). What is critical about that goes past the best-vs.-best confrontation: It’s how far and away these two are one of the best at their disciplines. Texas Tech holds opponents to 1.Eight fewer factors per 100 possessions than the subsequent finest within the defensive class, Michigan. The Raiders are 3.7 factors higher than No. Three Virginia. Gonzaga is 2.Three factors per 100 possessions higher than No. 2 Tennessee, and 5 factors higher than No. 6 North Carolina, whose offense has gained consideration all through the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.

MORE: Why your team won’t make the Final Four

Gonzaga wins if …

If it may reprise its defensive effort from Thursday night time in opposition to Florida State. The Seminoles shot solely 39.Three p.c from the sphere and linked simply thrice in 20 tries from 3-point vary. The Raiders don’t need to get pushed right into a 3-point sport. They don’t fireplace usually from deep, and of their losses shot 28 p.c on 3-pointers and by no means made greater than a half-dozen. Gonzaga has the power to seal off the rim with its size and peak. Few used an outsized entrance line of Clarke, Hachimura and 6-10 Killian Tillie at occasions in opposition to Florida State within the Candy 16, and Clarke and Hachimura are so dynamic they don’t lose any spark in that alignment. The Zags additionally received good minutes out of 6-7 senior Jeremy Jones. Gonzaga can’t afford, although, to wobble because it did inside the ultimate 10 minutes of the FSU sport. Have been it not for an infinite 3-pointer from wing Zach Norvell with 3:02 left — which broke a stretch of greater than 5 minutes with solely a single Gonzaga basket — this group won’t have survived into the weekend.

Texas Tech wins if …

It will possibly destroy the Gonzaga assault in the identical approach it did Michigan’s within the regional semis. The Raiders allowed the Wolverines solely a single, meaningless 3-pointer, wrecking them on the level of assault. All-Huge Ten level guard Zavier Simpson didn’t make a basket. They are going to intention the identical depth at Josh Perkins, who has the benefit of being taller and thus maybe higher in a position to take care of the kind of stress Tech applies. Perkins, although, by no means has been a dynamic ball-handler and isn’t the kind of jet-quick level who can flash by defenders. The Raiders have an elite shot-blocker in Owens, who ought to have the ability to assist hold Hachimura and significantly Clarke away from the rim. However Tech should discover a option to rating sufficient to maintain tempo with the nation’s No. 1 offense, even when that assault is muted by the Raiders’ protection.

Candy 16 decide: Gonzaga

It might not be fairly. Gonzaga will need to play a extra open sport, however groups that constrict the tempo are likely to get their approach on that by clogging the lane and making it tough to run fluid offense, thus forcing opponents into consuming extra of the shot clock in quest of high quality photographs. However there are such a lot of extra weapons accessible to the Zags. For Tech to advance, it might be vital for a number of gamers to carry out above their norm on the offensive finish. The Zags solely have to return near their normal.

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