ESPN Host Picks South Dakota State to Upset Gonzaga

Award goes to USBWA National Coach of the Year

The eighth-seeded Wildcats will open play against ninth-seeded Vanderbilt (19-15) in Salt Lake City with the victor facing the Gonzaga-South Dakota State victor.

No. 1 seed Gonzaga will play No. 16 seed South Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

Jordan Mathews led Gonzaga with 16 points while Przemek Karnowski, Josh Perkins, and Zach Collins each scored 10. Gonzaga shot 31 percent from the field in the first half.

South Dakota State will take the same approach against Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in the West.

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- With 12:30 to play in the game half, Silas Melson hit Williams for a transition flush as the Zags began to take control.

Gonzaga gets win number one out of the way with a 66 to 46 win over the Jackrabbits, advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament. You could tell in their conference tournament their guys kind of understood, "It's March now, and this is what we do, we win these things and move on". That game would be in Kansas City, where the Cyclones just won the Big 12 tournament and where the Jayhawks got knocked out in the first round. Gonzaga was ranked No. 1 in the nation for four straight weeks before the loss to the Cougars and aren't lacking for confidence after winning their three WCC tourney games by an average of 19.7 points. They just had the look of a team like that.

A 7-0 run to end the first half put Gonzaga up 26-22 at the break, then the Zags built their first double-digit lead on the back of an 11-2 run early in the second. That 23 point average deficit is also the spread for this game. Plus, who doesn't want to see Motley go against Semi Ojeleye? In eight games that they failed to score 70 points, they shot just 51-for-175 from deep, or 29 percent.

Mark Few has plenty of talent to work with, including point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who was one of the most valuable players in college basketball this season.

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Charles Bloom, executive associate athletics director for USC, says, "We have an allotment of 450 tickets for the first round". Only nine Division I men's basketball programs have more NCAA Tournament appearances than Coach K.

"When we come into halftime, we're really confident no matter what happens in the first half", Collins said.

Would Gonzaga win if they played like this on Saturday? They are one of the more balanced teams in this tournament. "We haven't fought out of the hole that we have fought out of to come here and have a moral victory", Otzelberger said. "It's not going to be easy, and we'll have to meet a lot of challenges".

Whoever comes away the champ in this West Region game will face the No. 8 Northwestern - No. 9 Vanderbilt victor in the round of 32 on March 18.

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