NCAA Sweet 16 Preview- W. Virginia vs Gonzaga and Michigan vs Oregon
NCAA Sweet 16 Preview
#4 West Virginia Mountaineers vs #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs
Where: SAP Center in San Jose, CA
When: March 23 at 4:39 PM PT
TV Broadcast: TBS
In the NCAA Sweet 16, Gonzaga finds its toughest hurdle yet as they face an opponent who can stand toe-to-toe both on offense and defense. The Bulldogs rank in the top 15 nationally in scoring offense (83.9 ppg) and in the top five in scoring defense (61.1 ppg). The Mountaineers are in the top 20 in scoring offense (82.1 ppg) and top 50 in scoring defense (66.8 ppg).
Gonzaga is in the Sweet 16 for a third consecutive season after dispatching No. 16 South Dakota State and No. 8 Northwestern. West Virginia reached the Sweet 16 for the second time in three seasons after holding off No. 13 Bucknell and No. 5 Notre Dame.
Gonzaga junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, the WCC Player of the Year, leads the Bulldogs in scoring (16.7), assists (4.7) and converts better than 90 percent from the free throw line. He has a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio with 161 assists and 72 turnovers. This will be significant as he faces West Virginia. Josh Perkins, the other significant ball-handler, has less favorable numbers with 113 assists and 68 turnovers.
“Press Virginia” as the Mountaineers are affectionately called, are a well-oiled, well-coached machine that gives teams fits with its full-court pressure and in-your-face defense. The Mountaineers have the best turnover margin in college basketball. They’ve forced 724 turnovers, while committing 442, for a ratio of 7.8 — nobody else in the country has a ratio better than 4.9. The Mountaineers have proved themselves throughout the season with big wins against Baylor, Kansas and at Virginia.
West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, is the team’s top scorer (13.3) and is sixth nationally with 91 steals. Because the Mountaineers use the entire length of the court, they employ a deep rotation with 10 players averaging at least 11 minutes played per game. Jevon Carter is the only Mountaineer to play at least 30 minutes per game (31.7).
My Take- Gonzaga hasn’t put together two successful halves in a game so far this tournament and the lack of consistency is going to hurt them. West Virginia presses the Bulldogs out of the tournament.
#7 Michigan Wolverines vs #3 Oregon Ducks
Where: Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO
When: March 23 at 4:09 PM PT
TV Broadcast: CBS
Michigan vs Oregon looks to be a good game, as both teams have unique offensive systems that bear some similarities. Both teams want to spread the floor to create space for shooters, and get scoring production from all 5 positions.
Michigan is led by Derrick Walton Jr, who has put the Wolverines on his back the last few weeks. He has shown the ability to impact the games even if hes not scoring- but he typically is. Michigan is on a hot run, having channelled some March magic in their conference tournament, and are playing inspired basketball. If they shoot well beyond the 3 pt line they can beat anyone.
Oregon has 5 players that averaged double figures in scoring this year. Three of those shot over 50% from the field. They were at the top of the daunting Pac 12 all year, and played several games vs the likes of UCLA and Arizona. The Ducks are battle tested.
Michigan faced OK State, an offensive team, and Louisville, who relies on their defense. The Ducks are the definition of balance though, shooting 48% as a team, and holding opponents to around 40%.
My Take- This looks like it could be the end of the road for Michigan.
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