In an absolute "must win" for Gonzaga, they take on Kentucky for a chance for a Quad 1 win. Can the Wildcats end the at-large hopes for the Bulldogs?
TV schedule: Saturday, February 10th, 4:00 pm ET. CBS
Arena: Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky
Two years ago, Kentucky and Gonzaga agreed to a multi-game series starting last season. In a top-5 matchup in Spokane, the Bulldogs won 88-72, with three players scoring 20+ points. However, none of them are back and the WCC team hasn't looked the same.
Gonzaga (17-6, 8-2 WCC) is coming off a 96-64 win over Portland, led by 25 points off the bench from Braden Huff and 20 from Anton Watson. But the problem hasn't been bad teams but beating the good ones. After losing at home to Saint Mary's last weekend, the Bulldogs remain without a Quad 1 victory for their resume, leaving them out of the NCAA Tournament picture for potentially the first time in over two decades.
The good news is that they have a great road opportunity, taking on Kentucky (16-6, 6-4 SEC). After losing two straight league games in the week prior, the Wildcats bounced back with a dominant 109-77 win over Vanderbilt. Antonio Reeves had 24 points in the win, while Rob Dillingham finished with 20 points and nine assists off the bench.
On paper, this looks to be a tough matchup for Gonzaga. Their defense has been borderline great but their depth is extremely limited against good teams. Plus, they're a poor three-point shooting team. Guards Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard are likely to play all 40 minutes and will need to have big games to have a shot.
On the other hand, Kentucky's defense has been "shaky" to say the least. They've been prone to giving up baskets and Gonzaga has a quality frontcourt in Watson and Graham Ike. If this becomes a shootout, the experienced Bulldogs could have a shot.
In the end, it's hard to envision Kentucky on the road being the game that Gonzaga breaks through. I won't predict a blowout but look for the Wildcats to get a nice victory before getting back to SEC play.
Prediction: Kentucky 86, Gonzaga 73