NCAA Tournament Preview: #2 Gonzaga vs. #7 Iowa


A team’s body of work can be misleading come tournament time.

Coming into the tournament, Iowa (22-11) had bad losses against Northwestern, Minnesota, and Penn State. However, they proved they can compete with the best of them, as they destroyed Davidson 83-52. Granted, the wide spread is in large part due to Davidson’s inability to make shots in the second half. However, credit should not be taken away from Iowa’s performance, as they hit a variety of shots to advance.

Gonzaga (33-2) is in the Round of 32 again for the seventh consecutive year. That is the second longest active streak of any team, only behind Kansas, who has advanced for nine consecutive years. With their second round win over North Dakota State, Gonzaga has also reached a program record 33 victories this season.

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The real question now is if Gonzaga can overcome their Round of 32 curse. For the last five years, the Bulldogs have been unable to advance to the second weekend. If they can overcome it, Gonzaga would advance to play UCLA in the Sweet 16. Where have we seen this matchup before?

In order to do this, the Zags have to beat Iowa first. The Hawkeyes are led by Aaron White, who leads the team with 16.3 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game, and 1.3 steals per game. The 6-9 forward will be a handful to try and stop defensively, but look for the Zags to put a special focus on him first and foremost.

Gonzaga needs to keep its composure and the edge on their shoulders. They know that this team has not advanced to the second weekend since Demetri Goodson hit a last second layup to send the Zags there in 2009. This team can play with the best of them, but they need to prove that they can do it for a sustained period of time.

This game will depend on how Gonzaga’s big men can do. Wiltjer, Karnowski, and Sabonis all had huge performances against North Dakota State. The Zags will need more of the same Sunday night if they want to advance.

Gonzaga’s defense needs to show up for the whole game. We saw glimpses of it against North Dakota State, but there were far too many defensive lapses. With less than two days to prepare, let’s see what they can do.

The third round game tips off at 4:10 p.m. Sunday and can be seen on TBS.