Previewing Gonzaga

Awaiting the Tar Heels in the Sweet 16 is Gonzaga, which has shed its mid-major label and is now a talented and battle-tested program. Friday's tip-off at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. is estimated at 9:57 p.m. and will be televised by CBS.

#1 North Carolina (30-4) vs. #4 Gonzaga (28-5)
Memphis, Tenn. - FedEx Forum
9:57pm, CBS


"When I took over as head coach, we emulated his transition basketball, his secondary break, his approach offensively and in a lot of cases defensively. I mean, his footprint, handprint, everything is all over our program… I guess the greatest compliment I can pay him is we've dang near copied a large percentage of our program on what he's done in both Kansas and Carolina." – Gonzaga head coach Mark Few on Roy Williams

"It's kind of nice to be the underdog, you know – most of the season we've had the bull's eye on our back." – Bulldogs forward Josh Heytvelt

"That's the one that keeps you up at night. They've got about 77 entities that keep you up at night, but that one's probably either 1 or 1A." – Few addressing how to stop Ty Lawson


Season to Date: Gonzaga enters Friday night's contest with a 28-5 (14-0 WCC) record. The Bulldogs endured a brutal nonconference slate that included wins over Okahoma State, Tennessee (twice) and losses to Memphis, UConn and Arizona. Head coach Mark Few's squad has won 11 straight and 20-of-21 dating back to the loss to Memphis on Feb. 7 in Spokane. Following a 83-58 win over Saint Mary's in the West Coast Conference Tournament, the Bulldogs moved into the No. 10 spot in both national polls.

NCAA Tournament Results: Despite being a savvy veteran bunch, the Bulldogs needed freshman Demetri Goodson's running floater from the left side of the lane with 0.9 seconds left to outlast No. 12 seed Western Kentucky in second round action on Saturday. Gonzaga defeated No. 13 seed Akron, 77-64, in the first round last Thursday. G Matt Bouldin and F Josh Heytvelt are both averaging 16 points in the NCAA Tournament, while F Micah Downs and G Jeremy Pargo are both contributing 13.5 points per outing.

Balanced Attack: Six Bulldogs soak up the majority of Gonzaga's playing time, as Gooden's 13.3 mpg represents the only other player on the roster averaging more than 10 minutes per game. But that top-six has been productive all season long, with Heytvelt's 14.9 points leading the group and Steven Gray's 9.2 points bringing up the rear. Pargo (10.1 ppg) leads the team with 5.0 assists per game, and F Austin Daye (12.8 ppg) joins Heytvelt as the team leaders with 6.7 rebounds per outing. Downs – a Kansas transfer – is contributing 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

Twelve Degrees of Separation: If you're looking for the main reason that Gonzaga posted a 28-5 record and snagged a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament this season, look no further than the shooting percentages. The Bulldogs are knocking down 48.9 percent of their field goal attempts, while holding their opponents to a 37.2 percent clip.

Best Stat of the Season? Three different Bulldogs – Bouldin, Pargo and Gray – are boasting a 2.0 or better assist-to-turnover ratio while averaging more than 27 minutes per game. There is just one player in the entire ACC that has an assist-to-turnover ratio higher than 1.8 – Ty Lawson's 3.4.

Odd Fact: This is only the second time that Gonzaga has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen as a single-digit seed (No. 3 in ‘06). The Bulldogs earned three consecutive trips to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament as a double-digit seed from 1999-2001. Gonzaga is 14-11 overall in the Big Dance.

Last Meeting: No. 23 Gonzaga defeated No. 2 North Carolina, 82-74 in the Preseason NIT semifinals on Nov. 22, 2006, at Madison Square Garden. The Bulldogs connected on 51.6 percent of their shots (including 8-of-15 from 3-point range) while holding the Tar Heels to 36.8 percent shooting (22.2 from beyond the arc). Brandan Wright led North Carolina with 21 points and 13 rebounds, but Tyler Hansbrough was held to just five field goal attempts in finishing with nine points.

Series History: Friday's Sweet Sixteen game will be the first NCAA Tournament contest between UNC and Gonzaga and just the second meeting overall.

Projected Starters:
 2 Jeremy Pargo (6-2, 220, Sr.) – 10.1 ppg, 5.0 apg
15 Matt Bouldin (6-5, 224, Jr.) – 13.8 ppg, 3.5 apg
22 Micah Downs (6-8, 194, Sr.) – 9.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg
 5 Austin Daye (6-11, 200, So.) - 12.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg
42 Josh Heytvelt (6-11, 260, Sr.) – 14.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg

Key Reserves:
32 Steven Gray (6-5, 208, So.) – 9.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg
 3 Demetri Goodson (5-11, 164, Fr.) – 3.8 ppg, 1.6 apg

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