The championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament will come down to Gonzaga vs. St. John’s. The Zags took down Georgia to advance, while St. Johns made it past Minnesota.
The first stat that jumps out to me about the Red Storm is that they are currently ranked 8th in the nation in rebounding with 46.3 boards per game. Gonzaga is going to have to rebound aggressively without getting in foul trouble. This was a problem in the game against Georgia. Gonzaga’s top rebounder, Domantas Sabonis, was in foul trouble early. It will be important for him to avoid foul trouble against St. John’s.
Gonzaga will also have the task of shutting down St. John’s top scorer, D’Angelo Harrison. The senior guard is averaging 18.5 points per game. Sophomore guard, Rysheed Jordan is also a big scorer this season as he is averaging 17.5 points per game. As a team, St. John’s is shooting 22.6% from three point range. Gonzaga may look to play more zone defense with this low three point percentage.
Against Minnesota, Harrison has 19 points and 9 rebounds. It may be helpful for Gonzaga’sbest defender, Gary Bell Jr. to defend him.
For the Zags, it will be interesting to see what Mark Few decides to do after the injury to Josh Perkins. There has been talk of Kyle Dranginis having an extended role or there is the possibility of Silas Melson burning his redshirt. Lately Dranginis has been struggling on the offensive end of the ball, so bringing Melson in could bring a boost in that regard. I am leaning toward Melson burning his redshirt, but it’s a tough call. It’ll be interesting to see what Few decides to do.
It is possible that we may see other players, such as Gary Bell Jr. playing the point when Kevin Pangos is on the bench (which luckily, is rarely). It is also possible that sophomore, Connor Griffin may see a bit more playing time.
In the game against Georgia, Kyle Wiltjer scored 32 points. He imposed his will down low and added a three and some nice mid range shots. While it is great to see such production from Wiltjer, it would be nice for the Zags’ other big men, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis, to have more production against St. John’s.
I expect a hard fought battle, but I see the Zags prevailing in the end.
The game starts Friday, November 28 at 7:00 pm ET on ESPN2