11 GONZ vs. 3 UTAH
Time: 8:40 PM CT
Spread: GON -2
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
The Gonzaga Bulldogs won its tourney opener 68-52 against No. 6 seed Seton Hall, and it will move on to face No. 3 seeded Utah as a 2 point favorite in Round of 32 action tonight at 8:40 Central.
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Gonzaga got a big game from Donatas Sabonis. The son of Lithuanian basketball god Aryvdas received plenty of touches as the Bulldogs pounded it inside. He shot 9 of 20 from the field en route to 21 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
Sabonis is expected to be a first round pick in the 2016 NBA draft, and more performances like this might help him inch up the draft board. Sabonis averaged 17.5 points and 11.7 rebounds this season while coming up with 1.3 blocks/steals per game. He shot 60.8 percent from the field and is supremely talented on the blocks. Sabonis had connected on 26 of 36 from the field in the four games prior to the Seton Hall win, all Gonzaga victories.
Gonzaga is now 26-7 on the season and its leading scorer Kyle Wiltjer even had a quiet game agains Seton Hall with just 13 points. Wiltjer has thrived at Gonzaga following his transfer from Kentucky three years ago. He has averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 42.6 percent from three-point range. Gonzaga averaged 79 points per game as a team while shooting 37.8 percent from three this season.
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The Bulldogs also get double-figure scoring from Eric McClellan and Josh Perkins. Perkins is the starting point guard, a 6’3” freshman who averaged 4.1 assists per game while turning it over 2.1 times per game. His 10.2 points and 3.4 rebounds were key to Gonzaga and he shoots 38.1 percent from three. Perkins had just seven points and seven assists in the win over Seton Hall but he came into the game averaging 16.5 points and five assists in his previous two, victories over Saint Mary’s and BYU.
The Utah Utes are now 26-8 this season and it won its opener against Fresno State 80-69. Utah pulled a 19-2 run in the second half to win this one going away from Fresno, though Utah led by 11 at the half and should not have given up 47 second half points to the Bulldogs. Four of five Utes starters scored in double figures as Utah shot 54 percent from the floor and 7 of 18 from three-point range.
Utah is led by seven-foot sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. He is a defensive minded big who led the team with 1.6 blocked shots per game while coming up with 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds, as well. He had 16 points and 18 rebounds in the opener, hitting 5 of 11 from the field and also dishing out four assists. He has had double-doubles in three of the last five Utes’ games and he had a huge 29 point, 11 rebound game against then-No. 24 California on Mar. 11.
If Utah gets that type of performance against Poeltl it should have no problem in this game, but Gonzaga will counter with Sabonis. This should be a great matchup between two of the best big men in college basketball this year, and certainly will be watched closely by NBA scouts. Both are expected to be lottery picks, but neither could be said to have much of an edge this early in the NBA draft scouting leading up to the draft in June.