Three Reasons Why the Gonzaga Bulldogs Will Win the National Title
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Gonzaga has long been labeled overrated by its critics in the Mark Few era. The Bulldogs often gets a high seed but just couldn’t get deep enough in the national tournament to justify their usually lofty seeding. Those were the same critics that were silenced by the Bulldogs over the weekend, when the team finally clinched a spot in the national finals, thus vindicating the selection committee’s decision to give them the No. 1 seed.
The success arguably has a lot to do with the collective experience of the team. The average age of the current Bulldogs’ roster is around 22 years old—older than that of the Phoenix Suns. The Bulldogs’ starting unit is composed of four upperclassmen, including senior center Przemek Karnowski, who is playing in his fifth and last season in Zags threads. The finals is going to be a test of nerves and these Zags appear to have the experience to handle the pressure.
Gonzaga isn’t only just experienced. The Bulldogs are also deep. Five players are averaging in double figures scoring for the Bulldogs, led by Nigel Williams-Goss, who is putting up 16.9 points per game. The balanced scoring makes it no surprise as to why the Bulldogs are 12th in offensive efficiency per KenPom. They are 11th in the nation with 83.1 PPG while shooting 50.8 percent from the field.
As a testament to the depth of the Bulldogs, Williams-Goss has had some off nights in which he scored 12 points or fewer in nine games this season yet Gonzaga was able to go 9-0 in those contests.
Sure, Gonzaga could score. But so does North Carolina. But if you think the title game is going to be a high-scoring affair, think again. Gonzaga is capable of locking opponents’ offenses down, a part of its game that fans saw when the Bulldogs made Xavier bleed for points in an 83-59 win in the Elite Eight. Gonzaga is eight nationally in scoring defense (61.2 points allowed per game) and limits opponents to only 41.2 effective field goal percentage
Slowing down the Tar Heels isn’t going to be easy for Gonzaga but the Bulldogs could dictate the game’s pace if they could also control the boards. That means putting a target on Kennedy Meeks, who had a monster game in the national semifinals against Oregon, scoring 25 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. Meeks likely wouldn’t have that kind of a game against Oregon if Chris Boucher was there to help Jordan Bell contain the Tar Heels big man.
Against Gonzaga, Meeks will have to deal with the Zags’ elite frontcourt that boasts of two solid centers in Johnathan Williams and Karnowski, making it harder for him to go bonkers again.
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