After an exciting and thrilling victory over the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, the Zags play one of their lowest ranked opponents of the year in the Alcorn State Braves on Monday, at 6:00 pm.
Meet the opponent
Alcorn State Braves, 0-3, KenPom #334
You have to hand it to the Braves—they know how to schedule quite the non-conference slate. Alcorn State departed for Washington on Nov. 9, and have lost to the Cougars, Seattle U, and Portland. They will finish their tour of the Pacific Northwest at Gonzaga before embarking on another road trip. All in all, the Braves do not play a home game until Jan. 15, against Texas Southern, during conference play.
This is as much of a buy-in game that exists on Gonzaga’s schedule, and after the celebration that was Texas, it’ll be hard to get as energized for this contest. Guard Byron Joshua leads the Braves with 12 points per game. Overall, this is a team whose offense is ranked No. 346 by KenPom, and the defense has not been much better.
In short, Gonzaga should win by an obscene amount. DraftKings Sportsbook lists Gonzaga as a 39-point favorite.
What to watch out for
Mark Few’s back. What does that mean for the rotation?
Most of us probably knew that when Mark Few was returning the rotation would slim down a bit. You also cannot compare how the players time was managed against a top-five opponent in Texas vs. two exhibition games and Dixie State. However, it is important to note that the Zags barely even hit an eight-man rotation against Texas. Anton Watson and Nolan Hickman came off the bench at 19 minutes a piece. Hunter Sallis tallied just four minutes. That was it.
Hopefully, we see a bit more of a game rotation similar to Dixie State. There is no need for Andrew Nembhard to play all 40 minutes, nor does Drew Timme need to log 38, Rasir Bolton 32, etc etc.
What about the turnovers?
Against a much lesser defense in Dixie State, Gonzaga turned the ball over 15 times. Against the much vaunted defense of Texas, the Zags lost their handles just seven times. What should we expect from the Zags each night? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle, especially considering Nembhard is a veteran point guard with a steady hand.