Can the huge underdog do enough to stay inside the number, or even possibly spring an upset? What should Gonzaga avoid in order to win and advance? Find out those answers and so much more.
Monumental Task for the Bison in Bulldogs Back Yard
The #2 seed in the South Region Gonzaga will face the #15 seed North Dakota State on Friday. The game will be played in Seattle, Washington and tip at 9:50 PM ET. According to the NCAA Tournament betting odds at Bovada, Gonzaga is an 18.0 point favorite, and the posted total is 128.5.
How can North Dakota State pull the Upset?
-The Bison coaching staff has to devise nothing short of a brilliant defensive game plan, versus an opponent which averages 79.1 points per game, shoots 52% from the field, and converts on 41% of their three-point attempts. North Dakota State will have no shot at all if Gonzaga scores 70 or more, especially considering they’re averaging only 64.5 points per game on the year, and only 60.4 per outing in their previous five contests.
-North Dakota State must find a way to neutralize Gonzaga on the boards. The Bulldogs are a +7.0 rebound per game differential this season, have a huge front line, and plenty of depth in that area.
-The Bison must hit a high percentage of their three point shots. They’re converting on a stellar 37.9% of their attempts this season. They’ll need to make a minimum of ten three-pointers, and convert around 45% of their tries in order to have a realistic chance of pulling the upset.
What Gonzaga Needs to Avoid
First and foremost Gonzaga can’t take this opponent lightly. Most times than not when higher seeds get upset in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament NCAA Tourney, it’s for that exact reason. Gonzaga has had their share of disappointing early round exits in recent years, so they should have no excuses in that regard.
Gonzaga has to be emotionally ready to play from the outset, that’s when they’re likely to receive North Dakota State’s best shot. They need to strip the large underdog of their confidence as early in the game as possible. The longer that North Dakota State can stay in this contest, the more dangerous they’ll become, and the tighter the Bulldogs will be.
The Bulldogs must be cognizant of the Bison’s very good perimeter shooting game, and dare them to go inside where they’ll possess a decisive edge. The old college basketball adage for underdogs is, “good three-point shooting can be the great equalizer”, and that can prove to be prophetic if Gonzaga allows it to be.
The Bulldogs must continue to be efficient on the offensive end like they’ve been for the majority of the season. They can ill afford poor execution, turnovers, or a poor shooting performance which would provide their inferior opponent an iota of a chance.
When North Dakota State has stepped up in class this season, they’ve failed miserably. They opened the 2014-2015 campaign, losing to Texas by 29, and being blown out by 31 at Iowa. Although both of those clubs are in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, neither is the caliber of Gonzaga. North Dakota State will be overmatched by Gonzaga team playing virtually in its own backyard (Seattle). I like the Bulldogs to win this game by 30 or more, and that will be one of my NCAA tournament picks.
Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Play on Gonzaga -18.0 over North Dakota State at Bovada.