Gonzaga and San Francisco meet in another exciting WCC contest; will the Bulldogs keep dominating the conference or can the Dons pull of a huge upset win at home?
TV schedule: Saturday, February 1, 4:00 pm ET.
Arena: War Memorial Gymnasium in San Francisco, California
Over the last few decades, Gonzaga (22-1) has gone from potent mid-major to yearly national title contender. They’ve completely taken care of business in the WCC, in fact handling foes from power conferences with ease in recent years. The Bulldogs have an impressive offense and seem to greatly overmatch everyone in their conference; can they be touched?
Among the talent on this team, sophomore forward Filip Petrusev (16.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg) has shined, scoring 31 points against Santa Clara in Gonzaga’s most recent win. Unfortunately, the status of senior forward Killian Tillie (13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) remains to be seen after leaving that game with an injury. Other names contribute greatly to this deep offense, including junior forward Corey Kispert (14.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg), a great distance shooter, and sophomore guard Joel Ayayi (11.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg).
The nation’s #2 team in the AP poll also sits at 3rd in the NET and 4th in KenPom. This Bulldogs program is annually producing national title contenders and this year is no different. They rank 2nd in offensive efficiency and are one of the nation’s best rebounding squads. Gonzaga takes care of the basketball, hits their free throws, and does just about everything necessary to win game after game.
On the home side, San Francisco (16-7) clearly has a tough task slowing down this Bulldogs team. First-year head coach Todd Golden has done a solid job putting this team in a good position, but Gonzaga is another animal. The Dons have won five of six games but how do they size up?
A few new names are making big plays for the Dons this year, led by junior guards Charles Minlend (14.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Jamaree Bouyea (13.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg). Minlend just had 21 points and 10 rebounds in their Thursday road win at San Diego while Bouyea can make shots from anyone on the court and leads the team in assists. It’s also important to watch senior center Jimbo Lull (11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg), the team’s best rebounder and a talented big man.
San Francisco sits at 85th in KenPom and 95th in NET. These Dons will not challenge for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. They do pose a threatening offense, sitting at 39th in offensive efficiency. Though they limited the Toreros to 44 points, the Dons defense has been suspect for much of the year, especially from long-range.
For the Bulldogs, this is just another game they should win on another cruise through WCC play. They need to play their strong offense and avoid sloppy mistakes early, a recipe for success for many road teams, even those heavily favored. For the Dons, they’ll need the entire team to play impressive offense while doing what they can to limit the talent of Gonzaga’s bigs.
San Francisco does not have the defense or manpower to completely limit Gonzaga’s offense, but there’s always the chance they can win a high-scoring affair if their outside shooters catch fire. Since this game is in San Francisco, there’s at least an outside chance the Dons could put together a great game, but playing Gonzaga tough for 40 minutes is no easy task.