NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Games on Saturday Feature Basketball Teams with Contrasting Styles
Posted on: March 30, 2019, 09:16h.
Last updated on: March 30, 2019, 09:16h.
The first two tickets to the Final Four get punched on Saturday night in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
In Anaheim, Calif., top-seeded Gonzaga seeks its second trip to the national semifinals in three seasons as the Bulldogs face Texas Tech, which has reached this stage for the second consecutive year, in the West Regional Final.
In Louisville, Ky., a pair of schools seeking their first Final Four in more than 35 years face each other in the South Final. Top-seeded Virginia, which last made the Final Four in 1984, gets a Purdue squad that hasn’t reached the semifinals since 1980.
Gonzaga opened as a 3.5-point favorite against the Red Raiders, and that line moved to four points by Saturday morning. Virginia is a 4.5-point favorite against the Boilermakers.
The West Final tips at 6:09 pm ET, with the South Final following. TBS will broadcast both games, and NCAA.com will offer live streaming through its March Madness Live website.
Defense Versus Offense in West
Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said in a Friday press conference he respects the way Gonzaga has built its program. The Bulldogs have made the NCAA Tournament each of the past 21 seasons.
We don’t want to just be an organization that has one good season or one good team,” he said. “We want to be a program. That word means everything in college basketball, and I think Gonzaga has done this over many years with consistency. The roster changes, but the level of excellence stays the same.”
The Red Raiders win with their defense as they hold opponents to just 59.2 points per game, the third-lowest average in Division I basketball. On Thursday’s Sweet 16 matchup, they limited Michigan to 32 percent shooting in a dominating 63-44 victory.
Jarrett Culver, the team’s leading scorer (18.9 points per game) scored 22 in the win.
While Texas Tech does it with defense, Gonzaga wins thanks to its offense. The Bulldogs, who average a D-I best 88.2 points per game also lead the country in shooting at 52.8 percent.
“I’m looking forward to a great battle tomorrow night,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said in his Friday press conference.
Rui Hachimura averages 19.6 points a game for Gonzaga. He scored 17 to lead four players in double figures Thursday in the Bulldogs 72-58 victory over Florida State.
Defense Versus Offense, Part II
Much like the teams out West, Purdue and Virginia reached the Elite Eight in contrasting styles.
Purdue relied on strong performances by Carsen Edwards (29 points) and Ryan Cline (27 points) to beat Tennessee 99-94 in overtime Thursday night. Cline scored 22 of his points in the second half, and Edwards sank two free throws with 1.7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
Cline made his last eight shots to help the Boilermakers overcome losing an 18-point deficit in the second half.
“There were times in the second half I was coming off and I knew I was going to shoot it,” he said after Thursday’s game. “My teammates did a great job of getting me open and giving me the opportunity.”
Virginia meanwhile beat Oregon 53-49. Ty Jerome gave the Cavaliers the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 3:30 left, and his teammates held the Ducks without a bucket for the final 5:43.
“We were communicating, we were scrambling, keeping guys in front, rebounding,” said forward De’Andre Hunter, whose team leads the country in defensive scoring. “We were doing all the things we’re practice every day. I mean, I think those last five minutes just shows how great we can be.”
Expect a defensive affair as the over-under at most sportsbooks is at 126.
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