BYU avoided the upset bug that has gotten a hold of Denver on Thursday as they beat Wofford and were the only favorite to win. Now, BYU takes on future conference mate Gonzaga Bulldogs who are the 11-seed and easily defeated St. John's on Thursday, and according to St. John's Steve Lavin he said Gonzaga looks like a Final Four team. That is high praise and Gonzaga is on a roll as they have won 11 straight games with two of those wins over St. Mary's.
BYU will have to contend with Gonzaga's 7-foot center Robert Sacre since the Cougars have few big men left, and Sacre could be the key for a Gonzaga win. Sacre averages 12 points and six rebounds and he could be an issue for BYU if he can not be contained. Marquise Carter, Steven Gray and Elias Harris are players that BYU needs to look out for as all three scored in double digits with Carter scoring a career-high 24 points.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few is all to familiar with having a super-talented player as they had Adam Morrison back in 2006 who had similar hype to Jimmer Fredette, and Few knows that Fredette will most likely get his points one way or another with the key to winning will be to try to slow down Fredette but more importantly shut down the other players on BYU.
The two teams are similar in that neither are team is deep which means fouls will be at a premium, so if any of the key players from either side gets into foul trouble could turn out to be the difference. The two teams do have one common opponent in San Diego State who Gonzaga lost to 79-76 all the way back on Nov. 16, but BYU is a different team who beat San Diego State twice since they had Brandon Davies.
This game feels a lot like the New Mexico game, just because when BYU beat TCU in the first round of the Mountain West tournament they played bad and were horrendous in shooting the ball. I am not going to say that Jimmer Frdette will go off for 52 -- but ya just never know -- but expect BYU to play much better against the Gonzaga. BYU will need to shoot a better percentage and have Charles Abou, Jackson Emery and Noah Harstock to have a good game for BYU to win. Plus, BYU will need some type of production from their bench which they did get in their win over Wofford when Logan Magnusson played 26 minutes while scoring 10 points and seven rebounds.
Here is audio from the Friday press conference:
Gonzaga press conference:
The one question about Gonzaga looking toward the Sweet 16 seems a bit premature, especially considering they are a 11 seed, but Vegas does have Gonzaga as a one-point favorite.
My prediction is that BYU wins this game by four points.