Gonzaga and San Diego State have been two of the best west coast programs in the past decade. Who'll have the edge in this latest matchup?
TV schedule: Friday, December 29th, 9:00 pm ET, ESPN2
Arena: McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Washington
With the exception of a February matchup with Kentucky, Gonzaga (9-3) has just one more non-con game before the start of WCC play. Their schedule has been once again tough, taking on multiple top-10 opponents. But as of now, the Bulldogs don't have a marquee victory on its resume, as teams such as USC, and UCLA are struggling.
That makes this home game against San Diego State (10-2) important as the Aztecs look like a legit contender once again in the Mountain West. After making it to the national title game for the first time in program history, the Aztecs have another strong team, led by forward Jaedon Ledee (21.6 ppg and 9.4 rpg. He's playing at an All-American level but now has to go up against the likes of Anton Watson and Graham Ike of Gonzaga.
The backcourt matchup is going to be just as important to this game. Final Four hero Lamont Butler and USC transfer Reese Waters (13.7 ppg) are the starters, while Darrion Trammell now comes off the bench. Elijah Saunders and Miles Byrd gives them depth, something the Bulldogs don't have.
Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard are both double-digit scorers who play over 34 mpg, with Dusty Stromer the only other guard in the rotation. While the WCC juggernauts have plenty of great frontcourt players, this is the kind of game where not having perimeter depth is going to hurt them since it's going to be a tough and physical game.
Both teams are going to be able to counter each others' strengths in what should be a low-scoring battle. With the game at home and the team looking for momentum heading into WCC play, look for Gonzaga to find a way to win this one.
Prediction: Gonzaga 65, San Diego State 62