Tonight’s meeting between Gonzaga and the seventh place San Diego Toreros is the final road game for the 28-0, number one team in the nation.
The game is sold out at the Jenny Craig Pavilion, which has not seen a win since the seven point win over BYU over a month ago. That game saw an attendance of just 2,206 people, or 43% of the gym’s capacity.
Every game is important when you’re trying to go undefeated for the first time in school history. And the stakes are certainly high when you consider that the Sword of Damocles-level re-seeding is hanging over your head when you play in non-power conference and are atop the national rankings.
Meet the opponent
San Diego Toreros, 12-16 (5-11), KenPom #250
The Toreros have been beating teams they should lose to and losing to teams that they should be able to handle. Three of the five conference wins have come against the third, fifth and sixth teams in the WCC standings. But they’ve struggled with losses against Pacific (twice) and getting housed by Loyola Marymount.
San Diego’s second season with Lamont Smith has seen improvement. They’re guaranteed to finish with a better conference and overall record than last year (4-14 and 9-21). And honestly, the season looked a lot brighter before February’s five game losing streak.
The Toreros are still led by senior and Spokane native Brett Bailey and sophomore Olin Carter. Carter is a valuable piece for Smith’s program moving forward. Bailey is looking to play closer to his trends and avenge a 2-12 shooting night when he last played the Zags. San Diego relies on their starters, as they have five guys averaging over 27 minutes a game.
What to watch out for
Front court mismatches aplenty.
Gonzaga didn’t entirely take advantage of their clear front court advantage when they played up in Spokane. The Toreros absolutely should not have an answer for Przemek Karnowski, Johnathan Williams III or Zach Collins down low. The Toreros’ biggest starter is all of 6-feet-8-inches.
Expect a heavy dose of the bigs as they try to match the 70% FG shooting from their last matchup. And as the coaching staff tinkers with their rotation without Killian Tillie, it might be a good night for Ryan Edwards to dwarf some folks.
Just win, baby.
A win tonight seals the outright WCC championship for the Zags. Following a night that saw Villanova sputter, the Bulldogs just need to keep chopping wood. This seems like a potential statement game, after a conference season full of diligent double digit blowouts during “business trips.”
Get in, get out.
It’ll be hard for Nigel Williams-Goss to match how efficient he was when he last faced San Diego. Williams-Goss hung 25 points on 11-15 shooting in just 26 minutes of play. I’m sure Few would love to get some of the key contributors some rest, and some more work for Josh Perkins and Silas Melson to get their stroke down before tournament time.
Time: 7:00 PM PT
TV: Root Sports and KHQ
Radio: Gonzaga IMG Radio Network (Tom Hudson and Matt Santangelo