Date: December 20 , 2008
No. 8 (AP)
No. 7 (USA Today)
#2 (USA Today)
It seemed as though a higher power was against having the Connecticut-Gonzaga match up happen on Saturday. Snow has ravaged the state of Washington, dumping 23 inches on the city of Spokane and also 8 inches in parts of Seattle, something that is unheard of. The entire city of Spokane was virtually paralyzed as air travel was impossible yesterday. Thankfully, Connecticut and Gonzaga are both in Seattle today meaning that this game is a go.
Saturday should be an excellent day of basketball across the nation. Some of the top teams are squaring off but the most appealing match up on paper has to be the game taking place in Seattle. The Zags and Huskies are two legit NCAA title contenders with a history of some great games.
continue reading after the jump to learn more about the UConn/Gonzaga game...
The Huskies and Zags are pretty familiar acquaintances for having only matched up three times in their history. Last season, Gonzaga got the better of UConn in Boston, defeating them 85-82 in a big win for Mark Few. The two games before last year did not go in Gonzaga's favor. Both losses ended storybook runs for the Zags, in 2005 in the Maui Invitational and 1999 in the NCAA Tournament. For most Gonzaga fans, neither game really needs an explanation.
This year's match up has all the makings for another great game. Gonzaga and Connecticut are two elite teams and match up very well. There are not many teams around college basketball that have more athleticism and size than Gonzaga but Connecticut is one of those teams. Reigning national defensive player of the year Hasheem Thabeet leads the Huskies into Seattle and is an absolute force. At 7'3'', Thabeet is a match up issue for every team he plays and he provides tremendous offensive skill with his size. It is rare to find a player that is that big but has the skill to match it. 6'7'' Jeff Adrien has been at UConn for twenty years it seems like and is averaging nearly 15 points and 10 boards a game so far.
Think Gonzaga is deep? Check out the Huskies. They tout five players that average in double figures and have two other players capable of pouring in 20 points on any given night in Stanley Robinson and AJ Price. It feels like every player is a McDonald's All-American on Jim Calhoun's squad. One of their best players is the super-talented freshman Kemba Walker who does not look or play like an 18-year-old.
Alright, enough with the UConn love...this is a Gonzaga blog and we have to have some sort of subjective view on the game. With that said, Gonzaga can win this game.
After all, Gonzaga did beat UConn last year and they weren't all that different. The Zags were the team that was different. Gonzaga was without center Josh Heytvelt and lights-out shooter Steven Gray. AND Hasheem Thabeet only scored six points last year before fouling out.
So it sounds great for the Zags.
Let's stick with that for now. For our prediction, we'll go with 78-74 Gonzaga.