Pick – Analysis
The matchup between Duke and Gonzaga was inevitable after Iowa State went down in its first Game. This is the matchup we wanted and we’ll get to see how legit Gonzaga is once and for all. Duke opened as only a -2 point favorite at 5Dimes, but that quickly jumped to -2.5.
The Blue Devils have dealt with defense-minded teams in two straight Games, but this one will be a little different. Gonzaga is one of the best scoring teams in the country and actually lead the nation in field goal percentage. Sure, playing in the WCC helps that, but this team went to overtime at Arizona early in the season. This is probably Mark Few’s most-skilled team ever with a well-rounded squad.
Duke is equally good on the offensive end, but they do struggle with size and defensive rebounding. The Utes grabbed 18 offensive boards against them on Friday. And guess what, the Zags had 18 offensive boards against UCLA.
That only means the Bulldogs will attack the paint as much as possible. Przemek Karnowski can hold his own against Jahlil Okafor and the same can be said when Domantas Sabonis comes in off the bench. The only problem is that they’ll have trouble dealing with Okafor on the other end. Utah held him to 6 points and 8 boards, but Gonzaga doesn’t play the same kind of defense. They’ll try and leave Karnowski on him to start, but it’s hard to see that working.
Kyle Wiltjer will be matched up with Justise Winslow and Amile Jefferson throughout the Game. Wiltjer had trouble dealing with Kevon Looney last Game and only scored eight points. Winslow gives up some size, but he makes up for it with athleticism and everything else he can do. Winslow had 21 points and 10 boards against the Utes. Guarding Winslow could be an issue for WIltjer.
The battle of the backcOurts will be just as fun. Duke probably has the better shooters, but Winslow was the only guy to hit a trey last Game, which probably hasn’t happened yet this year. Gonzaga struggled as well against UCLA with Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell going a combined 1-of-12 from three. That usually doesn’t happen and could be something to do with playing at NRG Stadium. It’ll be interesting to see if the shots fall in this Game.
As said before, the Bulldogs can be beat defensively. Norman Powell and Tony Parker showed that last Game as the two combined for 32 points. If that’s the case, what will the duo of Okafor and Tyus Jones do? Whoever guards Jones shouldn’t matter as he can get to the rim against anyone. And Karnowski isn’t going to have the ability to deal with Okafor 1-on-1 so we could see some double teams. That’s where the shooting of Quinn Cook and Matt Jones comes in.
Gonzaga will get points from their big men, but will need either Pangos to hit some shots or Byron Wesley or Gary Bell to step up. This is going to be a high-scoring Game, so the Bulldogs will need to Scorein multiple ways. If they can also win the rebounding battle, expect a great Game.
Duke just played against a team with size and really shut down Utah’s offense. Winslow should have his way again and if Okafor can be his usual self against Karnowski, it’s hard to see the Blue Devils losing.