I can’t stand Michigan.
That’s why the elation that overwhelmed me was incalculable after Texas Tech’s 64-43 thrashing of the Wolverines. And as much as I want to gloat on this victory, the truth is, there’s an offensive juggernaut just itching to discredit the Red Raiders’ vaunted defense.
With each passing day, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are looking more and more like the 2018 Villanova Wildcats team that basically eviscerated each of its opponents en route to the most dominant championship performance we’ve seen in a long time.
With two first-round draft talents, including a projected top-5 pick in Rui Hachimura, the Bulldogs will be the most challenging team to guard Tech has played all year.
TALE OF THE TAPE
As you can see, Gonzaga outperforms Tech in every single offensive category. They score more points on more efficient shooting, grab more rebounds and turn the ball over less. Part of this is a pace of play thing, but there’s no denying this team’s ability to put the ball in the basket.
Predictably, Tech has some advantages on defense.
Tech allows fewer points per game and forces more misses than Gonzaga does, even against tougher competition. Gonzaga does have some size down low that helps with blocks and rebounds, but Tech will take its chances on the boards as long as it’s forcing missed shots.
Hachimura is the most consistent scorer on the team, but don’t forget about Brandon Clarke. The junior forward dropped 36 points on Baylor two games ago to go with eight rebounds and five blocks, before adding 15 points, 12 boards and another five blocks in the Zags’ most recent win against Florida State. Senior point guard Josh Perkins will be a catalyst in this game, as he’ll be burdened with the task of facilitating the Bulldogs’ offense against Tech’s suffocating defense. Perkins is averaging 10.9 points and 6.5 assists on a highly efficient 45.2 field goal percentage.
Tech doesn’t have as many weapons on offense as the Zags, but with the Red Raiders’ style of play, you don’t need to be the Golden State Warriors on that end of the floor to win games. If Culver, who leads the team in points, rebounds and assists, can have an efficient shooting night and his role players like Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney are knocking down outside shots, Tech can keep its winning streak going - as long as it keeps its defensive intensity up.
ESPN gives Tech about a one-in-four chance to win the game. Really, it comes down to who controls the pace of the game. If it ends up being a fast-paced shootout, Gonzaga is going to win this game by wearing down Tech with its plethora of options on offense. But if Tech can slow the game down and limit the possessions Gonzaga has, stifling any rhythm or momentum the Zags pick up, then Tech can walk out of the arena with the biggest win in program history.
What do YOU think is more likely?
Who wins and advances to the Final Four?
This poll is closed