When you think Gonzaga you think 31-2, you think WCC, and you think Kelly Olynyk. There is no doubt that Gonzaga has had one of if not the best season in its schools history. Losing only twice and both times to a #13 ranked opponent is nothing to scoff at. Many people are very skeptical of thte fact that Gonzaga did not acquire the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. The fact that Gonzaga is in the WCC means that they don't play many high caliber teams that will do damage down the road in the tourney. Playing in the WCC makes it very hard to come by real quality wins. Gonzaga's best wins this year were probably against Baylor 94-87, Oklahoma St. 69-68, Kansas St. 68-52 and against BYU 70-65. Two of these teams did not make the NCAA tournament, one is a 4 seed and one is a 5 seed. The most notable of these wins was against Oklahoma State who was ranked #22 and it was Gonzaga's only top 25 win. Oklahoma State is a good team with great back court featuring Marcus Smart. This team is not known for their front court. Which brings us to Kelly Olynyk. The reason that Gonzaga was able to squeak out a 1 point win is because of how weak the Oklahoma St. Frontcourt is. Philip Jurick, the Ok St. Center had 2 points and 7 rebounds and the Ok St. Power Forward Kamari Murphy had 0 points and 1 rebound. These two players combine for 6.7 points per game. This mean that Olynyk was able to go 7-12 from the field and 7-8 from the ft line. Ok St. absolutely dominated the guard play. Their three starting guards had 16, 15, and 23 points. If Ok St. could have gotten even a tiny more bit of production from their front court they could have easily won. But teams can't win with only a back court.
So in recap, Gonzaga's only top 25 win was against a team with one of the weakest front courts in the NCAA Tournament. This is not the kind of competition they will be facing in their bracket. Their first matchup against Southern U I give to them. Gonzaga is still a good team and can easily win against weaker teams like Southern U. Southern U has a couple of scorers averaging over 11 ppg but no a very strong front court. Gonzaga's second matchup is interesting. They will either be playing the 8 seed Pitt or the 9 seed Wichita St. Should Pitt win their matchup I think they have a very decent chance at knocking off Gonzaga. The reason Pitt has a chance is their freshman center Steven Adams. Adams stands 7'0" and weighs 250 pounds, he controls the paint and averages 2 blocks per game as a freshman in the Big East. Steven Adams has the skill and body to bang with any post player in the country. He is probably one of the toughest matchups Olynyk could face this tournament. If he is able to shut down or at least slow down Olynyk, I give Pitt's efficient and fast backcourt a great chance to win the game. This is all based off of Pitt beating Wichita St. so lets examine a Gonzaga vs. Wichita St. Matchup. Wichita St. is ranked 27th in the nation in team rebounding. The shockers also have their two forwards as their leading scorers and their leading rebounders. This front court could deal damage to Olynyk and Harris. With Olynyk and Harris playing sub par anything is possible for the Shockers but I'd give Pittsburgh a much better chance at beating Gonzaga than Wichita State. Keep in mind that both of these teams are far superior to the WCC teams that Gonzaga is used to playing and the teams that have given them their great season averages.
If Gonzaga reaches the sweet sixteen the two teams that they are most likely to play in my mind are Kansas St. and Wisconsin. Gonzaga has already beaten Kansas St. this year by 16. In that game Kansas St. Had an absolutely horrible shooting night 33.3% from the field as a team. If Gonzaga is lucky, they will get this matchup again. I would expect Olynyk to have a very good game but K St.'s guard play is far superior to Gonzaga's. K St.'s guards are their leading scorers while Gonzaga's are their forwards. This game would be a virtual Front court vs. Back court game. A game that could go either way, and not something a #1 seed should be facing in the sweet sixteen. The other most likely matchup is against Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a very spread out attack and everyone they put on the floor will be able to rebound. A couple of good stats to look at for this matchup are the box scores for Wisconsin's two wins against Indiana. In both games Wisconsin had four players in double figures and they were able to contain POY candidate Cody Zeller. If you can beat a team with Cody Zeller twice you're doing something right. In my mind if you are containing Cody Zeller then you can contain Olynyk and without Olynyk Gonzaga is nothing. Wisconsin cannot be shut down because you can't beat them by locking down one guy. They have at least four guys that are capable of carrying the load. This is why they were able to knock off big names such as Indiana, Michigan, Ohio St. and Illinois. Wisconsin has shown that they can really bean anyone and can really sneak up on teams. I would take Wisconsin over Gonzaga with a fair amount of confidence.
Now I am going to cover Gonzaga's elite 8 matchup with the team that I am picking to be in that game, Big Ten Champs Ohio State. In this matchup I have no doubt at all that Ohio St. would overpower Gonzaga. First of all this is a very hot Ohio St. team that is currently on an 8 game winning streak against teams that are ACTUALLY good. Ohio St. has a superb back court that features Aaron Craft who is the all time leader in steals for Ohio St. I can foresee Aaron Craft absolutely ravaging the Gonzaga back court. I am having visions of turnover after turnover by Stockton. There is no one on Gonzaga that has had to defend someone as physically imposing and as skilled as Deshaun Thomas this year. Thomas has shown the ability to become unconscious and knock down every look he gets. Both of these players will also make their free throws down the stretch. Ohio St. is an all around very athletic team that will force turnovers and run in transition. The overall height and strength of Ohio St.'s front court players like Deshaun Thomas will be what they need to contain Olynyk enough to get the win. On the other side Craft and Smith Jr. will be taking out Gonzaga's guard play and there will be no one to set Olynyk up.
This is why Gonzaga will not make it to the Final Four .
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