Texas vs. Gonzaga: 2021-22 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

A potential Final Four preview takes place Saturday in Spokane when Texas takes on No. 1 Gonzaga. Who will come away victorious in this highly-anticipated game?

TV Schedule: Saturday, November 13, 10:30PMET, ESPN2

Arena: McCarthy Athletic Center, Spokane, Washington

In one of the most anticipated games of the first week and potentially the entire non-conference slate, No. 5 Texas (1-0) travels to the great northwest and Spokane to take on the No. 1 team in the country, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Both teams are coming off NCAA Tournament appearances, but with greatly different results.

The Longhorns were upset as a No. 3 seed by Abilene Christian in what would turn out to be Shaka Smart’s final game as the team’s coach and Gonzaga made it to the national championship game but lost to Baylor. Both teams underwent significant changes over the summer and as a result, both are threats to reach New Orleans.

After Shaka Smart was let go, Chris Beard made the trek from Lubbock to Austin to take over the Longhorns and did Chris Beard things. The transfer portal might as well have been installed in Beard’s house as he brought in seven players and not just seven players but names and numbers. Devin Askew joins the team after one season in Lexington at Kentucky, after that it’s star after star in Austin.

In walks 82.4 points and 33.2 rebounds per game thanks to Marcus Carr (Minnesota), Dylan Disu (Vanderbilt), Tre Mitchell (UMass), Christian Bishop (Creighton), and Timmy Allen (Utah). As if that wasn’t enough, in addition to those five and returners Courtney Ramey, Andrew Jones and Jase Febres is Jaylon Tyson a top-50 recruit, giving Beard an embarrassment of riches in his first season. How those pieces will fit together is a question, but over their first game, they seem to fit together just fine, knocking off Houston Baptist 92-48.

Speaking of an embarrassment of riches, Gonzaga has talent in droves for Mark Few who returns to the bench after a suspension stemming from an offseason DUI arrest. Few lost his top assistant, Tommy Lloyd who left for Arizona, and also gone are Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert, and Joel Ayayi. But, don’t feel bad for Gonzaga, they are loaded.

All-American Drew Timme returns as do Andrew Nembhard, Julian Swarther, who based on Gonzaga’s exhibitions and 97-63 win over Dixie State could be ready to burst onto the scene and Anton Watson. That’s a solid team but Few also brought in Rasir Bolton who averaged over 15 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists at Iowa State and the No. 3 recruiting class in the country according to 247sports.

The class is headlined by 7-1 Chet Holmgren who can do everything from handle the ball like a guard and step out from deep on offense and altering shots on the defensive end and Hunter Sallis is a 6-5 guard who oozes athleticism and can create for himself and others. Look for four-star recruit Nolan Hickman to be the backup to Nembhard at the point and he and the other freshmen played big dividends in their opener against Dixie State, with 40 points and 20 rebounds.

This game should have a postseason feel before Thanksgiving and expect the Kennel to be rocking on Saturday night. Both teams have talent in droves and everywhere you look on the floor, whether if it’s in the paint there are position battles galore, but how will it shake out?

In what is the most anticipated game of the week, this game has the potential to be an early-season classic. Chris Beard has already shown at Texas Tech that he can take a bunch of new pieces and make them fit together nicely, but even in Lubbock, he didn’t have toys like this. The one place I think Texas has an advantage in this game is in the backcourt with Carr, Ramey, and Jones, because for all the talent Gonzaga has, one of their question marks is how Nembhard will handle leading this offense.

But I think Gonzaga’s frontcourt will ultimately be the deciding factor as Timme has a game where, while yes Holmgren may be the best player on the floor, I am still an All-American level player. The Zags win a tight one in the end.

Prediction: Gonzaga 86, Texas 81