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Gonzaga is the elite, but only the March Madness perfections can satisfy the Bulldogs now

Gonzaga is the elite, but only the March Madness perfections can satisfy the Bulldogs now

INDIANAPOLIS – It looks like the Gonzaga Bulldogs should already be in the Final Four, with 29 wins and not a single win in the book and semi-finals and just six days to go. Even the best teams, however, have to win four games in the modern NCAA Championship to reach the biggest phase of the game.

The Zags are the best teams, but they will still have to prove themselves to reach the finish line that is the dream of every college basketball player, perhaps for a team that is as stylish as this team.

Mark Few has been at Elite Eight before as Gonzaga’s coach, and as an assistant before. This is the fifth appearance of the program, and it has come four times in the last six tournaments.

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Gonzaga has been here in 2019, now in 1st place in the Western Region. That team lost the opportunity to move forward. This team has an even bigger burden, with a perfect record and a favorite to win the national championship.

Zags aren’t just favorites, though. They have the highest margin of effectiveness – the difference between what the team gets for every 100 properties and what its defense supports – since KenPom.com began recording statistics in 2002.

They’re the team that needs to win, like Kentucky in 2015 or UNLV in 1991.

“We’re not hanging on with anything undefeated. We have to go 3-0 if we want to win the tournament, and that’s been our goal all along,” few told reporters after Sunday’s very disturbing 83-65 win. victory to the seed of Creighton No. 5 in the Western Region. “The pressure is on all of these teams, as you get further and further away from it. The pressure comes from all sorts of places, and the biggest pressure on all of them is not wanting to finish.”

Usually, it feels like something different in the regional final, because there is another champion to get to that end of the season or to get to that awesome basketball game. This year, that title is reminiscent, but reaching the Quarterfinals just means being inside the NCAA bubble for another week.

“It’s coming very fast,” a few told Sporting News. “We had a tremendous amount of time before this, especially when you’re not traveling. We had a lot of breaks. We won’t know our opponent (Oregon or USC) until after midnight.

“There will be a lot of movies, the staff will do a lot of preparation work. It’s a great job here, I think the staff is the best in the country … That’s why they’ve become so valuable. day is the day of the game. We need to be ready to rest and kick. “

Creighton’s plan was to get Bluejaya out of the 3-point line, giving him as few open jumps as possible. They only hit 5 out of 3 out of 23.

They have won 43, 16 and 18 points in the three games that have pushed the Zags Elite Eight. This is an average of 26 points. And we all know that Gonzaga could have been the margin he wanted. No effort was made to embarrass Bluejaya, and no one guaranteed it. They had a nice season to get here.

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This was far from Creighton’s best performance, but it was also far from the worst. When Jay played in Georgetown in the Big East Championship final and ran out of gym, it was bad basketball.

“The defense made a difference,” few said. “We did a really nice job, especially on line 3.”

Creighton chose to play the wings of the All-American Corey Kispert and guards Andrew Nembhard and Joel Ayayi were able to shoot 3s if they wished. And they did. And they did enough, combining 6 of 15. The movement of the ball that caused these shots created 34 assists in 34 baskets.

“It’s been really good to spend all year,” few said. “It’s probably our best attribute. It’s a reason to have such a good balance. It’s a reason to score so well in painting.

“You probably have to pick a little bit of poison with us. At this point in the season, it’s not like things you haven’t really seen. Our boys get the schemes that people choose and then they adapt.”

Creighton’s Marcus Zegarowski had no desire to be the last victim. He would do everything in his power to keep Gonzaga’s winless season going. He did plays, he made shots, he did magic if he could help. How much can a boy do in this sport but his name is not James, Jordan or Abdul-Jabbar?

Zegarowski was not alone against the Zags. There was support from some team members. They seemed overwhelmed as the game began.

The Gonzaga Center was dominated by the Drew Timme lane. Before the break Nembhard climbed to double figures. In the first nine minutes, Ayayi hit the 3-point lead three times. As the guardian of new student Jalen Suggs was very wonderful, some NBA teams would get 1st place at the break overall, but they had to play another 20 minutes and maybe three more games, and no one completed it. lottery yet.

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Thus, the breadth of Gonzaga’s talent outweighs his opponents: Kispert, the team’s top scorer, scored just two points in the first half. Creighton ordered striker Damien Jefferson 6-5 to give Kispert as little room as possible, and the result was a single-shot attempt by the Zags ’main star. And yet, Jay spent most of the middle on a two-digit deficit.

Kispert was happy to see his teammates dominate in the first half, but he certainly wasn’t satisfied. He came into the final 20 minutes to decide the impact to make sure this game wasn’t more competitive than it should have been. (Which was: not competitive).

Kispert left the Jefferson team’s third standing attack using an exciting cut across the lane causing an 8-yard dash. Three minutes later he turned it into a mock-up and two minutes later he nailed his first 3 points, and the Zags built their biggest score to 56-39. He added another 3 points because all of that was necessary. He stated. The rest of the Zags could finish the job.

“Right now, all the teams have to go undefeated to win, so there’s no pressure to keep that line,” Nembhard told reporters. “We’re always talking about tightening that last 5 percent, especially at this point in the season. I definitely think we’re still improving. We can still get the job done.

“I don’t think we’ve reached the top.”

If that sounds bad to you, keep in mind that it’s just as challenging for Gonzaga as anyone else. The Zags don’t want to leave this season at the highest level that can be achieved without playing as many games as possible. There will be less chance of wasting anything.

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