With the Sweet 16 On the Horizon, the Zags Face BYU

Demetri Goodson will likely be one of many guys who matches up with Jimmer Freette throughout the game. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

When it was announced that BYU was set to join the WCC for the 2011-2012 season, I was happy that the first time these two teams matched up, Jimmer Fredette wouldn't be involved. However, when the draw for the NCAA Tournament was released, it became clear that this potential rivalry might get started a year early. After BYU took care of  business against Wofford, and the Zags put on a show in a win over St. John's, this exciting matchup became a reality.

If someone could guarantee me that we would see the same performance from Gonzaga that we saw on Thursday night, I wouldn't even waste my time writing this preview. While there is no doubt that this team is peaking at just the right point in the season, the effort against St. John's was one of the best I have seen from a Gonzaga team in the past five years. From the excellent ball movement on the offensive end, to the excellent pressure on the defensive end, this was one of the most complete 40-minute performances this fanbase has been treated to.

The interesting aspect of the NCAA Tournament is how different styles of play emerge throughout each round. After facing an incredibly athletic and intense defensive team like St. John's, the Zags must be prepared to face a team that will shoot the ball from the perimeter throughout the game, while attempting to get the tempo and style of play to its liking. There will be no fullcourt pressure from BYU and this game will not reflect the physical nature that was expected when facing a Big East program in the second round.

Just as it did against St. John's, Gonzaga has a formidable advantage in the paint against BYU. This is especially true with the suspension of Brandon Davies, who is an excellent athlete and a guy the Gonzaga coaching staff thought highly enough to bring in on an official visit. Davies was the one guy on the BYU roster that had the athleticism and length to matchup with guys like Rob Sacre, Elias Harris and Sam Dower, Without Davies, the Zags need to make a concerted effort to slow down the tempo of the game and get the ball in the paint. This is the type of matchup where Gonzaga will have the strength and size advantage at nearly ever position and will need to utilize that to leave Denver with a victory.

Now this clearly wouldn't be a preview about BYU if there wasn't a little more of a mention about Jimmer. If Gonzaga is going to win this game, it needs to extend the perimeter defense and force guys like Fredette and Jackson Emery to shoot contested jumpers. If BYU can get the tempo in its favor, and use transition offense to get open looks, it will be the Cougars that advance to the Sweet 16. The tempo of the game will be the deciding factor, as if BYU can't get up a lot of shots, it can't win the game.

This bracket has always been favorable for Gonzaga. BYU is an excellent shooting team, and has arguably the best scorer in the country. However, it's not a team that is going to overwhelm Gonzaga on the defensive end and is not a team that possesses elite athleticism. If the coaching staff can figure out a way to extend the defense and control the tempo, the Zags will be on the way to New Orleans next week. After the masterpiece of a coaching job that the staff put together on Thursday, it seems that they have a great feel for this group of guys and how to make sure they follow the gameplan. Therefore, I think Gonzaga continues its excellent play and leaves Denver with the 70-59 win.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Slipper Still Fits

You must be a member of The Slipper Still Fits to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Slipper Still Fits. You should read them.

Join The Slipper Still Fits

You must be a member of The Slipper Still Fits to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Slipper Still Fits. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker