It is really not surprising to see the Bulldogs in this position yet again, having amassed great success over the last several years. This is as good a run as they have had since the days of Adam Morrison in the mid-2000s, and before that, debatably, when they had John Stockton running point.
The Red Raiders defense was absolutely bonkers on Thursday as they held Michigan to just 44 points. As both teams struggled to score thin the first half, the teams went into the locker room with the game up for grabs. Once they got going in the second half, it was over.
When this tournament began, the Zags were ready. They absolutely man-handled Fairleigh Dickinson, never allowing them to even take a breath in the game. They held them to 49 points while putting up 87 themselves. That game set the tone for them as a #1 seed this time around. They got on Baylor from the opening tip too, and Brandon Clarke was simply unstoppable with his 36-point effort. The team led by 16 at the half, and just never stopped, keeping their foot on the gas all the way.
It seemed during the second half, with just under five minutes left against FSU in the Sweet 16, there might be just a little bit of doubt. But in a game where they had various guys step up to the plate, it was the shooting of Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins that lifted them down the stretch. This is a group that absolutely belongs to be here, and are a win away from the Final Four.
As we mentioned above, it was the impressive defense of the Red Raiders which helped them past Michigan in the Sweet 16. They allowed minimal scoring opportunities and kept their opponents without a shot outside the paint in the entire opening half. Davide Moretti, who had his family in from Italy to watch him play in person for the first time all season, shot the ball extremely impressively when the team needed him. He finished the day with 15 points and was feeling his outside shot.
Jarrett Culver, as expected, led the way with 22 points in 32 minutes of action, and took the game over when the Red Raiders needed somebody to rise to the occasion. He is likely going to be one of the top picks in next year’s draft and has a chance to cement his status as a top-five pick by leading the team to one more win. They will prove no easy task for the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga claims victory, moves to the Final Four
Hard to pick against Culver and co., but we’re going with Gonzaga. Be sure to bet GONZ -4! With Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke in the lineup, plus the volume-shooting guards, they have too many weapons out there.
Free Pick: GONZ -4
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