West Region Elite Eight Prediction and Free Pick: #1 Gonzaga vs. #3 Texas Tech

Date | AuthorJonathan Willis

Last Updated: 2019-03-30

The No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders are looking to make their first trip to the Final Four in school history. Texas Tech went to the Elite Eight for the first time ever last season, and the Red Raiders are close to pushing their boundaries in back-to-back seasons. To get to the Final Four, they will have to knock off the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs in the West Regional Final on Saturday.

The West Regional Final will see the #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the #3 Texas Tech Red Raiders at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. This game will start at 6:09 p.m. ET, and it will be broadcast on TBS. Oddsmakers have made Gonzaga a four-point favorite over Texas Tech, and the total has been set at 137. The winner will go on to the Final Four in Minneapolis, Minnesota next weekend where they will face the winner of the East Region.

How They Got Here

Gonzaga has yet to face a real challenge at the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs crushed Fairleigh Dickinson by 38 points in their First Round game, and they raced out to a big lead against Baylor in a 12-point win over the Bears to make it to the Sweet 16. Many predicted that a tall, athletic Florida State team would be able to upset them on Thursday, but Gonzaga never had much of a problem with the Seminoles. FSU scored the first basket of the game, but that was their only lead of the game and Gonzaga cruised to a 72-58 win.

On Thursday, Texas Tech put together the most impressive performance of the NCAA Tournament thus far. The Red Raiders were a second half team in the first two rounds of the tournament. They outscored Northern Kentucky 42-31 in the second half in the First Round to win by 15, and they outscored Buffalo 45-33 in the Second Round in a 20-point victory. As an underdog against Michigan on Thursday night, they were tenacious on defense throughout, stymying the Wolverines in a 63-44 beatdown. These were the two best defenses in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy prior to the game, but Texas Tech proved their defense was superior by holding Michigan to 1-19 shooting from beyond the arc and forcing 14 turnovers.

Preview

The No. 1 offense in the country will face the No. 1 defense in the country, so every Gonzaga possession will feel magnified. The Bulldogs are miles ahead of the second-most efficient offense in the country according to Ken Pomeroy. Gonzaga has six players it can rely on for offense, and that utility makes them dangerous.

Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke are two of the top big men in the country. Hachimura is hitting better than 60 percent of his field goals, while Clarke is hitting more than 70 percent of his two-pointers. The two weren’t as efficient against Florida State, but they were still pretty solid, and Clarke had a phenomenal outing. He finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and he also had five blocks. Killian Tillie and Corey Kispert can provide instant offense in the frontcourt too.

The backcourt is one of the best in the country too. Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell can both create, and both players are hitting better than 52 percent of their two-pointers. They are both efficient three-point shooters with Perkins shooting 36 percent and Norvell sinking 37.5 percent of their threes, yet those numbers are likely to take a dip against Texas Tech.
Texas Tech doesn’t let three-point shooters have success, just ask Michigan. The Red Raiders allowed opponents to hit just 29.4 percent of their threes this season, and opponents didn’t have much better luck challenging the interior either. Opposing teams have hit just 41.6 percent of their two-point attempts against this team.

Over the last two months of the regular season, Texas Tech had one of the best offenses in college basketball. Jarrett Culver was the reason why. Culver has made himself a lottery pick. He has been phenomenal this entire season, and he took his game to another level against Michigan. He scored 22 points against one of the best defenses in the country and went 9-14 from two. The one thing he can’t do is shoot the three, but both Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney can hit the triple.

Pick: Texas Tech +4

I’m a believer in the Red Raiders. Their defense smothered Michigan, and they have three shooters that can hurt the Zags. I think they can stop Clarke and Hachimura on the inside, and if that happens, they can get Gonzaga’s offense to grind to a halt.

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