No. 23 Gonzaga at No. 24 Memphis
Date: Saturday, February 8, 2014
Location: FedexForum, Memphis, Tenn.
Time: 6:00 PM PST
Last Season: Did Not Play
Gary Bell Jr.
In a rare non-conference matchup amidst conference play, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will travel down to Memphis to take on the Tigers on Saturday evening.
With College Gameday in attendance, the lights will be shining bright on the No. 23 and No. 24 ranked teams in the country.
In preparation for Saturday’s clash of the former mid-major titans (Memphis left Conference-USA last season for the American Athletic Conference), I asked Courtney Smith of PawoftheTiger.com – a Fansided Memphis fan site – about the game:
Give a brief description of the Memphis Tiger’s, touching on their play style, their personnel, and their strengths and weaknesses.
Memphis’ style of play is fast pace. The Tigers thrive at hitting the open floor and getting transition points. As a team, they are averaging over 20 transition points a game. This team has four guards who are capable of taking over a game. Joe Jackson is the floor general and Chris Crawford is the ‘Ray Allen‘ for Memphis. He can get hot at any time. Geron Johnson can lock down any team’s best player because of his ability to guard on the wing. Michael Dixon Jr. is what I call the ‘garbage man’ for Memphis because he score when the defense least expects it. Josh Pastner knows what type of team he has, it just depends on what team you’re going to see. At times, this team can completely disappear on the floor.
Give me a few players that Gonzaga should look out for on Saturday.
Gonzaga should watch out for Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols. These players can easily set the tone for the Tigers. Goodwin is having his best year averaging over 13 points and six rebounds a game. As for Nichols, his skill set is like Cory Zeller from Indiana. He has a nice hook shot and that’s what he’s looking for in the low post. If Gonzaga allows these guys to score in double figures, then it could be a long night for Mark Few and his team.
What aspects scare you about the Gonzaga Bulldogs?
Kevin Pangos is what scares me. He’s a great point guard with a high basketball IQ. He’s averaging 15.3 points and 4.1 assists a game. He could easily get a double-double on Memphis. Memphis has to find a way to stop him.
How do you think the two teams match up?
Both of these teams are different. Memphis likes to run and gun whereas Gonzaga is more of a half- court offensive team. Whichever team has their way on the offensive end of the court will win this game by at least 10 points.
My prediction Gonzaga 75 Memphis 67
Memphis’ free throw shooting hasn’t improved that much. That is what scares me for them. I have to go with the Zags in this game.
Thanks again Courtney for answering questions.
Keys to the Game
The big man’s play tonight – especially on the defensive end of the floor – will be the difference for the Bulldogs. He has played exponentially better in this facet of the game this season, and will need to show that tonight going against Nichols and Goodwin.
This is somewhat obvious for the Zags. If Gonzaga struggles behind the arc, they will not be able to score enough points to beat the Tigers.
Unlike Courtney, I do not think the Bulldogs have enough firepower to slay the Tigers. Memphis has too much athleticism on the perimeter and too much physicality inside for the Bulldogs to prevail. However, I think it will be close. Memphis 80, Gonzaga 74.