No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No.7 South Carolina Preview, Game Prediction

    Gonzaga vs. South Carolina prediction and game preview, as the No. 1 Bulldogs and No. 7 Gamecocks face off in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

    March 26, 2017

    Gonzaga vs. South Carolina prediction and game preview, as the No. 1 Bulldogs and No. 7 Gamecocks face off in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

    Finally, it’s happened. Gonzaga has reached its first Final Four in program history.

    It certainly wasn’t the easiest path, but the Bulldogs found a way. After receiving a No. 1 seed in the West region of the bracket, Gonzaga picked up a first-round win over No. 16 South Dakota State, 66-46. That set up a second-round victory over No. 8 Northwestern, 79-73. And then the Zags took down No. 4 West Virginia, 61-58, and No. 11 Xavier, 83-59.

    The Bulldogs will now take on No. 7-seeded South Carolina, which is also making its first trip to the Final Four. The Gamecocks went up against No. 4 Florida for the third time this season and found a way to beat the Gators, 77-70.

    Prior to that SEC showdown, South Carolina upset No. 10 Marquette, 93-73 in the first round. That led to a 88-81 win over No. 2 South Carolina, which set up a 70-50 victory against No. 3-seeded Baylor.

    Gonzaga vs. South Carolina Game Preview

    Date: April 1, 2017
    Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona
    Region: West/East

    Gonzaga wins if …

    The Bulldogs have had an extremely hard time securing the defensive glass throughout the tournament. They did a better job of boxing out and locking down the boards in the win over Xavier, but the Musketeers still grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, and Gonzaga can’t afford to allow that many second-chance opportunities if it wants to keep dancing.

    Przemek Karnowski managed to pull down only three rebounds against Xavier, and that’s unacceptable. With his size, he needs to get positioned better once the ball is in the air. If he can pull down some more rebounds, then the Zags will have to get him going early offensively. Some early buckets down low will help space the floor and allow Nigel Williams-Goss, Johnathan Williams and Jordan Mathews some room to operate.

    South Carolina wins if …

    The Gamecocks have been applauded for their defensive pressure all season long, and that’s exactly how they snuck past Florida. So, that’s what they need to do in order to get past Gonzaga as well. South Carolina virtually took away the three-point line against the Gators, forcing them to shoot 7-of-26 from behind the arc.

    If Frank Martin’s squad can shut down the perimeter, it will need to crash the offensive glass and pick up some second-chance buckets. That’s where it can really hurt the Zags. That’s where Chris Silva and Maik Kostar can make an impact. They combined for 12 rebounds against the Gators, and seven of those came on the offensive glass. Providing Sindarius Thornwell can have another performance like his 8-of-13, 26-point game against Florida, South Carolina will have a shot at making a national championship game appearance.

    Gonzaga vs. South Carolina Prediction

    The Bulldogs and Gamecocks are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, so this is going to be a slugfest. South Carolina has played stellar defense the entire year, but this is where its run comes to an end. Gonzaga will finally figure it out and box out as a team. The Zags will limit the Gamecocks to fewer than 10 offensive rebounds, and that will come off some perimeter pressure for Gonzaga to match that of South Carolina. Thornwell will be forced into some contested shots, and Mathews will knock down some more key jumpers to give the Bulldogs a trip to their first title game.

    Gonzaga vs. South Carolina Score Prediction: Gonzaga 78, South Carolina 71

    MORE: Complete NCAA Tournament Bracket, Previews, Predictions


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