The Zags only average three more points a game than WVU, but are a much deeper team. They have five players averaging 8.5 points per game or better. They have also have better field goal, free throw, and three point percentages. WVU has struggled all year to keep the scoring numbers up, and are one of the worst outside shooting teams in the tournament. However, the Mountaineers will look to take advantage of their offensive rebounding abilities. Second-chance points could play a huge factor.
Gonzaga had a better points against per game this season, but the Mountaineers played a much more difficult schedule. Bob Huggins is one of the best defensive coaches in the country, and has gotten his team to play physically, and aggressively in the half court. The Mountaineers are also very strong down low, and will force Gonzaga into tough shots. WVU is also one of the better defensive rebounding teams out there, so Gonzaga will struggle to get second chance opportunities.
Mark Few is one hell of a coach. He has consistently put Gonzaga into the tournament, and been on top of the WCC. He typically gets the most out of every kid, even if they aren't elite recruits. Normally I would pick him in this category, but we are talking about Bob Huggins here...one of the best all-time. Two trips to the Final-Four, and over 700 career wins. Never a bad thing to go into battle with Huggs.
The game is an hour away from Morgantown. WVU took a bus. Gonzaga flew through three time zones. The Mountaineers will bring a level of toughness that Gonzaga doesn't typically see. The Zags have the ability to hang with it, but will they? Both teams aren't afraid to play anyone, so don't expect to see wide eyes. Gonzaga does have some more experience, which should certainly help as well.
It should be an outstanding game. The Mountaineers are the lower seed, but Gonzaga will treat it like they are the underdog. A lot will ride on how Truck Bryant shoots the ball. If he can give the Mountaineers a respectable performance, then look for WVU to control. If the Mountaineers fail to shoot well, then it could be a very long night. Look for WVU to find Kevin Jones and Deni Kilicli early, and then move outside. Hard to see Jones going out with a early loss, but we'll see.
PREDICTION: 71-67 WVU