West Coast Conference
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, First Round loss to Davidson
Coach: Mark Few (9-9 in 9 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Gonzaga ranks first in the nation in field-goal percentage defense allowing the opposition to shoot just 36.6 percent from the floor. They are not flashy, but simply play good, solid defense day in and day out. Jeremy Pargo, Steven Gray and Matt Bouldin, the starting guards, deserve much of the credit. Each average over one steal per game and all three of them are solid one-on-one defenders.
Those three guards are about a lot more than just defense. Pargo is the point guard and spearheads the team’s great assist-to-turnover ratio. He is not much of a shooter, but he will get to the basket and finish. Bouldin will get to the basket as well, but he is also the team’s most efficient shooter from beyond the arc. Add Gray and part-time starter Micah Downs to the mix and the Zags have four guards who can score in a hurry.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The problem is that the offense can become very stagnant at times. Downs and Gray are pretty much just outside shooters and if the shots are not falling, the Bulldogs are in trouble. Starting forwards Josh Heytvelt and Austin Daye are the best scorers on the team, but they both spend a lot of time out on the perimeter. They will occasionally score inside, but that can become difficult against longer and stronger teams. That means if the Zags outside shot is not falling, they have few other options for putting the ball in the basket. And the team often, like in their blowout loss to Memphis, settles for jump shots instead of searching for another way to score.
Who To Watch:
The most important thing to keep an eye on is the aggressiveness of Coach Mark Few’s team. Daye and Steven Gray are both great, and young, players who could be superstars in the coming years. However, they are not the most aggressive players. Daye is putting up solid numbers, but he could do more in the paint on the offensive end. Gray is a good all-around player, but he pretty much looks like a shooter. Over half of his shots come from beyond the arc, and his production would be much, much better if he consistently went to the basket. He even shoots free-throws pretty well, so there is no reason why he should not be attacking the rim more often. If those underclassmen can start to take over the game a little more, the Bulldogs could be in for a surprise run in March.
Jeremy Pargo, Senior, Guard
Steven Gray, Sophomore, Guard
Matt Bouldin, Junior, Guard
Austin Daye, Sophomore, Forward
Josh Heytvelt, Senior, Forward
Ira Brown, Senior, Forward
Micah Downs, Senior, Guard
Demetri Goodson, Freshman, Guard
+ Following final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!