Last season, the Cowboys hosted the Zags on New Year's Eve (Dec. 31, 2012) and Gonzaga handled OSU in Gallagher-Iba Arena 69-68. Kevin Pangos was the leader of the Zags and he is back and averaging 14.1 points a game. This time though, Sam Dower Jr., a power forward averaging 17.5 points, and "little Stockton" are starters.
Dower and David Stockton, the son of famous NBA assist mogul John Stockton, are starters and forces for Gonzaga. Gary Bell Jr., is another returnee from the last meeting, averaging 11.2 points a game this season.
Gonzaga is a nice challenge for the athleticism of Markell Brown, Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash.
I think Oklahoma State will advance past Gonzaga and then get to test the top seed in the West Region in Arizona. The Wildcats have a more physical team that can give the Cowboys trouble.
Nick Johnson is talented and a force. Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski inside at center are also really good. You don't get to be a number one seed without being really good, but Arizona, in my opinion, is not playing as well right now as they did earlier in the season and earlier in the Pac-12 season. UCLA, playing well right now, beat the Wildcdats in the conference tournament.
Can Oklahoma State win the West Regional and go to the Final Four at Jerry's World in Arlington? Yes, they could but they won't. They just aren't consistent enough and while I like them in match ups with a lot of teams in the West and in the lower side of the bracket, a repeat game with Baylor or a rematch with Oregon from the last NCAA Tournament, any of those could end the Cowboys' run.
I think the chance of getting to the second week as a member of the "Sweet 16" is good, but I see them getting tripped up on the second weekend.
How will the rest of the Big 12 do?
Baylor: The Bears are out west as well with an opener I expect them to win against pedestrian paced Nebraska. Then a showdown with Creighton and I could see the Bears stopping McDermott. Like the Cowboys, I don't see Baylor being consistent enough to go all the way to Arlington. They will slip up somewhere.
Oklahoma: The Sooners got the five seed they expected to get and they will face a stout opener with Summit Conference winner North Dakota State. Oklahoma wins that one close and then loses to San Diego State in a second round game.
Kansas State: The Wildcats went home from Kansas City early and rested. They open with Kentucky in the first round with a chance to play into a state pride game with top seed Wichita State. I'd love to see it, but I think the K-State Cats go home early like they did from Kansas City.
Texas: Maybe the Longhorns find a way to beat Arizona State and maybe they go home right away. If they stay for the second round then they go home after that because Michigan will handle the Horns.
Iowa State: The Cyclones stayed the longest in KC and beat the Bears for the Big 12 tourney title. I think they will be fine with Ejim, Kane, and Niang. I think Iowa State goes farther than any other Big 12 team and after they shock North Carolina in the second game, they make their way into the Elite Eight.
Kansas: It's a bad draw for the Jayhawks as Florida is the overall number one seed and the Gators play like it. Of all things, after arguing with the SEC in football on top of the league vs. overall balance, the SEC has a team that beats out the Big 12 in hoops. Actually, I don't see Kansas even playing Florida, just not surviving in their neighborhood down South.