The 4th-seeded University of Connecticut takes on the 3rd-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs in the West Region Elite 8 Saturday night inside the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, NV. They jump it up at 8:49 pm and the Huskies come in as a very slim two-point favorite and this game on paper seems to be a 50/50 affair. This game could be decided by who has the ball last.
The Huskies (28-8) seem to be a team no one wants to see or play as they just destroyed 9th-seeded Arkansas, 88-65, in the Sweet 16 to get to this point and the game was not even close. The Razorbacks got punched in the mouth and they could not respond at all. The Huskies put together a nice game plan that consisted of their guards doing most of the damage as their three main guards combined for 37 points in the win.
They were led by sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins who erupted for a game-high 24 points on a solid 6-of-13 shooting from the floor and he dished out three assists in the triumph. If they get the guards playing to that level again, they should be able to force the Bulldogs to play much tighter defense and that is when they can blow right by them and take the ball right to the rim.
As a whole offensive unit, the Huskies average close to 78 points per game and they only allow 64 a contest and they have shown they really can play lockdown defense. They connect on 46% from the floor, including 36% from beyond the arc and they drill 76% from the free throw line.
The Bulldogs (31-5) have been the best team in their conference and now they are going to be tested bigtime against a very hot Huskies team. The Bulldogs edged UCLA, 79-76, in an instant classic that saw several lead changes late and some really great back and forth hoops. It had drama, tension and some big plays and big shots from both teams.
However, in the end Julian Strawther nailed a clutch three-pointer with just under eight ticks remaining to lift Gonzaga to a dramatic three point win Thursday night in the Sweet 16. Now, the Bulldogs get to ride that charm and momentum into this contest.
They showed toughness rallying from eight points down late before Strawther and his heroics.
He ended the game with 16 points and added 10 rebounds in the win. They need him to get his shot off and they need him to draw some double teams and that will create spacing on the floor.
They connect on 53% from the floor and also drill 39% from beyond the arc and they are a team that knocks down shots in bunches, which makes them dangerous. Senior forward Drew Timme is the team's best leader and player on offense as he chips in with a league leading 22 points per contest. He adds seven rebounds too.
The Bulldogs are 5-0 in their last five games and 4-1 in their last five games against the number and 4-7 in their road games against the spread. The totals have gone over in three of their last five games and 13 of their last 21 games at home.
The Huskies are 21-12 overall against the spread. The Huskies are 4-1 in their last five games and 4-1 in their last five games against the number and 8-6 in their road games against the spread. The totals have gone over in one of their last five games.