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Gonzaga vs. San Francisco game preview: The return of Frankie Ferrari

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The Gonzaga Bulldogs picked a great time to head to one of the thorns in their WCC side over the years.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Under normal circumstances, the game between Gonzaga and San Francisco in the War Memorial Gym isn't the best game to watch.

But these aren't normal circumstances for the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the San Francisco Dons. Gonzaga is the No. 2 ranked team in the nation and, the hiccup against Santa Clara aside, churning through the WCC pretty nicely. The Dons are mired in a terrible WCC year, sitting at 3-9 in conference play with two separate losing streaks of four games.

If there was ever a team the Dons wouldn't want to face, theoretically it would be the Bulldogs. But, as luck would have it, out of all the teams in the WCC to ever figure out the might of Gonzaga, it might be San Francisco. Although Gonzaga has won the past two showdowns in San Francisco by 10 points each, prior to those two wins, San Francisco rattled off a win in three consecutive years.

As Santa Clara demonstrated on Thursday, Pepperdine in January and Portland early on, road tests for Gonzaga in conference play aren't the gimmies we all hope and wish they were. The Bulldogs have a target on their backs the size of Oakland now, and everyone is eager to be that one team to capitalize.

Meet the opponent

San Francisco Dons, 9-16, KenPom #154

The Dons have a couple of stellar starters in Mark Tollefsen and Kruize Pinkins. Last time around, Tollefsen struggled mightily. He finished the game with just five points off of 2-of-10 shooting. It was a nice defensive set by the Gonzaga big men, but it is hard to anticipate another poor offensive showing like that. Tollefsen normally shoots 53.5 percent from the floor and is more than happy to knock down a three. Against Gonzaga, he was just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Again, he normally shoots 38.4 percent from there.

Pinkins dropped 20 points on the Zags. He averages 15.2 points per game and is one of the more efficient players in the WCC. Where he truly shines, however, is on the offensive glass. Pinkins is just one of those players that has that knack for creating an extra possession. He hasn't been as good at it this year, but 55 of his 129 total rebounds come on the offensive glass. Gonzaga needs to keep him off of that, and keep those extra possessions to a minimum.

The four factors

All stats courtesy of Ken Pomeroy

Gonzaga San Francisco
eFG% 59.1 (2) 51.4 (78)
OR% 35.5 (46) 31.6 (151)
TO% 16.6 (33) 18.2 (98)
FTR 37.3 (173) 41.6 (71)
Win index 92 8

What to watch out for

The quest for the top effective field goal percentage in the nation.

As of right now, Gonzaga sits second in the nation at effective field goal percentage. Theoretically, there is a decent amount to cover to catch up with Notre Dame, which boasts a 60.0 percentage. On Thursday, Gonzaga worked its way there. The Zags shot an insane 69 percent from the floor and missed a total of 13 shots. San Francisco doesn't boast that great of a defense, so it is another good chance to try and bridge that gap.

Eric McClellan's defensive abilities.

On Thursday, Gary Bell Jr. was the one responsible for trying to shut down Jared Brownridge for much of the game. That is a tall task, and for the most part GBJ performed admirably. When McClellan came in to give GBJ some time to rest, he really ramped up the pressure. It might be too early to say much now since he hasn't had too many minutes, but McClellan might make for a nice wildcard come March. He is incredibly quick and aggressive on defense. Any boost to the defensive pressure Gonzaga can bring is a good thing.

Frankie Ferrari.

In my mind, there isn't a better name in college basketball. Let's hope he makes it back out on the court again.

Game info

Time: 8:30 p.m. PT

TV: ESPN2

Online: WatchESPN

Radio: AM 1510 KGA (Spokane), AM 880 KIXI (Seattle), AM 1360 KUIK (Portland)