So much for the travel advantage.
Despite playing just a few hours from their campus, West Virginia appeared to never actually make the trip to Pittsburgh’s Consol Arena, digging themselves a 27-10 hole against Gonzaga. The Mountaineers would go on to lose by 23 points, 77-54, to Spokane’s finest, never making the game interesting after the first five minutes.
As poorly as West Virginia played, however, much credit has to be given to Gonzaga.
The knock on Mark Few’s team this season has been their inability to defend and a perceived lack of toughness. Well, I think they did a pretty good job disproving the doubters on Thursday night. West Virginia shot just 32.9% from the floor. One of the best rebounding teams in the country, the Mountaineers managed to get just 10 offensive rebounds. Truck Bryant was 2-10 from the floor. Kevin Jones, a second team all-american, was just 5-14, finishing with 13 points and four boards.
The Zags had a lot to do with that. And they are going to need much more of it on Saturday, as they advance to, in all likelihood, take on the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes (assuming they can get past Loyola MD).
At this point, Gonzaga looks like a team that has been criminally underrated. They have size and athleticism in their front court with Elias Harris and Robert Sacre. They have a combination of playmakers and athletes on their perimeter with David Stockton, Guy Landry-Edi and Gary Bell. And, of course, they have Kevin Pangos, who will be an all-american at the point for the Zags by the time he leaves school.
Regardless of opponent, the Zags are going to be a threat to make the Sweet 16.