Gonzaga Bulldogs (14-2, 4-0) at Portland Pilots (9-7, 1-3)
Date: Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Location: Chiles Center, Portland, Ore.
Time: 8:00 p.m. PST
Radio: Gonzaga – gozags.com
Portland – 1080 AM or portlandpilots.com
Last Season: The Zags won both matchups by a combined 51 points.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs (14-2, 4-0) will travel away for the McCarthy Athletic Center for the first time in conference play when they take on the Portland Pilots (9-7, 1-3) tonight at the Chiles Center.
Keys to the Game
Neutralize Van der Mars and Nicholas: Portland is at its best when its two big men – Ryan Nicholas and Thomas van der Mars – are getting plenty of looks on the block and later finding shooters on the outside.
It is imperative that the Bulldogs shut these two down. Thankfully for Gonzaga, Przemek Karnowski is playing some of his best defense of the season. In the Bulldogs win versus Saint Mary’s – who, like Portland, are at their best when they are pounding the ball inside to its big’s – Karonwski held Brad Waldow to 5 points on 1-8 shooting, his worst shooting performance of the season.
With the big 7-footer on their side, Gonzaga has a much better chance of defeating the Pilots.
Physicality: The type of teams that give Gonzaga fits are teams that play with physicality. Kansas State and Dayton were able to overpower the Bulldogs and pull out victories.
Portland will need to do the same if they want to defeat the Bulldogs for the first time in over a decade. Players such as Ryan Nicholas, Thomas van der Mars and Kevin Bailey are going to need to play physical, particularly on the defensive end, in order for the Pilots to have a chance to win.
Gonzaga has been on a roll lately. Offensively, the Bulldogs have been solid all season, but at this point in the season they are turning into a good defensive team as well.
While I think the Pilots will challenge the Bulldogs behind their home crowd, but in the end Gonzaga has too much depth and talent. Gonzaga 85, Portalnd 68.