Initial Thoughts On Zags Vs. West Virginia


When Gonzaga finally showed up on the television screen on Selection Sunday, my first thought was "thank goodness they didn't forget about us". Too be completely honest, that is my reaction every year, as I always fear that somehow the committeewill just forget about Gonzaga when putting together the bracket. After that initial thought, I really started to think about the matchup with West Virginia and came away with no complaints about the work of the committee.

The main reaction on Twitter seemed to circle around the location of the game. While it might be the gut response to initially think about this in the same vain as the game in 2008 against Davidson in Greensboro, there are certainly some differences. The main difference is that this West Virginia team isn't at the level of that Stephen Curry led team. The Mountaineers were not a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, and probably only have one future pro on their roster. While the travel situation certainly isn't deal, Gonzaga will be playing in the evening this time and won't be facing an opponent that is as good as that Davidson team.

West Virginia is led by the outstanding Kevin Jones, who will make a living in the NBA. The senior forward has improved every year and was a top candidate for Big East Player of the Year. Jones averaged 20.1 ppg and 11.1 rpg and shoot the ball well from inside the three-point line. Like most of his teammates, Jones is a not a great shooter from behind the arc, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Gonzaga come out in a zone and force the Mountaineers to hit some early shots.

The other primary offensive option for West Virgina is Truck Bryant. Bryant is a volume-shooter who can score buckets in quick spurts if he gets hot. Bryant averaged an impressive 17.2 ppg, but it should be noted that he only shot 36.2% from the field. In the paint, the Mountaineers rely on Deniz Kilicli, who isn't overly talented, but plays the game very hard. It will be imperative that Gonzaga doesn't allow Kilicli to get cheap baskets on offensive rebounds.

The Mountaineers played their best basketball prior to Big East play, when they knocked off quality opponents like Akron, Oral Roberts and Miami. However, throughout the Big East schedule, the Mountaineers struggled to put together consistent performances. Wins over Georgetown and Cincinnati were offset by losses to Pitt and St. John's. WVU really struggled down the stretch, losing eight of their last 12 games.

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