WCC Basketball Tournament - Championship

NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheet: Getting to know Gonzaga

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Read through the rest of the Cheat Sheets here.

Conference: WCC

Coach: Mark Few

Record: 31-2, 16-0

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 4
– RPI: 11
– AP/USA Today: 1/1

Seeding?: Our Dave Ommen had the Zags as a No. 1 seed in Monday’s bracket projection.

Names you need to know: Kelly Olynyk (17.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg), Elias Harris (14.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Kevin Pangos (11.8 ppg, 3.2 apg)

Stats you need to know: Everyone is going to talk about Gonzaga’s front line, but it’s important to note that the back court of Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos combines for 21.0 ppg and 40.8% three-point shooting.

Tendencies: Gonzaga has a very good front line and Mark Few sure does know how to play through them. What makes those big guys dangerous is their versatility. Olynyk and Harris can handle the ball, they can step out and hit a jumper, they can pass the ball.

Big wins, bad losses: They lost to Illinois when Brandon Paul went crazy and Butler in Hinkle when Roosevelt Jones scored the flukiest bucket of the season.

How’d they get here?: The Zags won the WCC’s automatic bid, but the only thing that did was put them into a better position to get a No. 1 seed. Kansas State and Oklahoma State are their two best wins.

Outlook: Gonzaga is a national title contender. There’s simply no way that anyone can make an argument against that. They have the best front line in the country, one of the nation’s most under-appreciated back court and plenty of size and athleticism on the wings. The shoot it well, they score in the post, they can beat a zone and execute against a man-to-man, they defend, they rebound. They’re legit.

How do I know you?: Everyone knows Gonzaga. But if you don’t know their star, Olynyk, you may recognize him as Mitch from the movie Dazed and Confused.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.