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Gonzaga vs. Portland game preview: Zags head to their home away from home

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This is going to be ugly.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at San Francisco Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are in Portland, their home away from home, to take on the Portland Pilots on Saturday.

The Zags are coming off an ugly game against Loyola Marymount that still amounted to ean easy win. Zach Norvell led the Zags with 17 points, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over 16 times. No good.

Portland is currently riding a five-game losing streak after getting trounced by San Diego at home, 76-55. A rough year for the Pilots seems to get rougher with each passing game.

Meet the opponent

Portland Pilots, 7-12, KenPom #317

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it: Portland is the worst team in the conference by a long shot. With an offense ranked No. 291 and a defense ranked No. 286, there really isn’t much that the Pilots do well. Considering that there tend to be as many Gonzaga fans, if not more, in Portland than Pilot fans, this will down right be a crushing game.

Part of the issue is that the Pilots are one of the youngest teams in the nation. There isn’t a single senior on the squad, and only two players seeing meaningful minutes are juniors. Sophomore guard Marcus Shaver is the go-to-scorer for the Pilots, leading the team with 14.8 points per game. Sophomore point guard JoJo Walker chips in 13.1 and junior forward Josh McSwiggan adds 12.2.

Portland is not good at offensive rebounding, controlling the ball, or shooting the ball. The Pilots can hit the three at a respectable clip, but there is not enough offense here whatsoever to make a game of this contest. Portland owns seven wins on the season, but two of those are against non-DI opponents. The average KenPom rating of their opponents in the other five wins: 307.

What to watch out for

Remember the Pacific game? This could be similar.

One thing the Pilots do well is draw contact, particularly between Shaver and Walker. Portland ranks No. 46 in FTA/FGA ratio. Pacific was good at this as well, and if you remember, it sort of turned the game into this rather dull contest. Considering how overmatched Portland is in this contest, don’t expect this to be the most exciting game either. We could be looking at a similar score.

Killian Tillie appears to be up and running.

It only took two games, but the Gonzaga forward looks to be operating exactly as efficiently as we need him to operate. Tillie was non-existent against Santa Clara thanks to foul trouble, and he wasn’t very efficient against Pacific. He posted an ORtg of 195 against San Francisco, and followed that up with a nice game against LMU. Watch out world—Gonzaga might actually be at full strength now.