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Getting To Know Gonzaga: A Look At OSU's Tourney Foe

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SAN DIEGO, California -

Despite being located 1,725 miles apart, Oklahoma State and Gonzaga can't seem to stay away from one another.

This will be the sixth meeting between the two institutions in the past decade with the most recent being a 69-68 Gonzaga victory in Gallagher-Iba Arena last season.

Here is a look at this year's Bulldogs prior to Friday's 3:40 p.m. showdown in San Diego:

 

Gonzaga Quick Facts

Mascot: Bulldogs

Location: Spokane, Wash.

NCAA Titles: 0

Final Fours: 0

NCAA Tournament Trips: 17 (all since 1995)

Coach: Mark Few 402-99 (80.2 percent)

 

Zags' Resume

Record: 28-6

West Coast Conference Record: 15-3

RPI: 22

SOS: 100

Record vs. Top 50: 2-3

Great wins:  None

Good wins:  BYU (2x), at West Virginia, New Mexico State, Arkansas and Saint Mary's (3x)

Bad losses: at Portland, at San Diego


Projected Starters

C | Przemek Kamowski | 7-1, 295 | 15 ppg | 6.9 rpg

F | Sam Dower Jr. | 6-9, 243 | 15 ppg | 7.1 rpg

G | Kevin Pangos | 6-2, 180 | 14.1 ppg | 3.7 apg

G | Gary Bell Jr. | 6-2, 205 | 11.2 ppg | 2.9 rpg

G | David Stockton | 5-11, 165 | 7.5 ppg | 4.2 apg

 

By The Numbers

0 — Wins for Oklahoma State in five previous games against Gonzaga. Three of those losses have come by a combined six points.

88.5 — Zags' coach Mark Few's winning percentage in West Coast Conference play since taking the reins of the program in 1999. He has amassed a dominating 193-25 record in the league during his tenure with 13 conference titles in his 15 seasons. Perhaps most impressively, Gonzaga has never missed out on March Madness under his watch.

11.9 — Average margin of victory for the Bulldogs this season with an average score of 76.9-65. The margin ranks 15th in the NCAA this season. Interestingly, OSU is 17th with an average win margin of 11.2.

13 — GU's NCAA rank in 3-point field goal percentage. The Bulldogs don't put up an obscene amount of 3's (17.9 attempts per game), but they have a tendency to hit them, connecting with a 39.4 percent average.

49.8 — Actually, it's not just 3's that Gonzaga has a knack for; the Zags rank fifth in college basketball with a healthy 49.8 field-goal percentage (Of note, Bedlam rival Oklahoma faces the No. 1 team in this department in North Dakota State at 50.9 percent).

RELATED: Previewing OU vs. ND State

 

What's On The Line

Despite having made 16-straight NCAA Tournaments, the Zags haven't made many ripples in March as of late, having not made it past the Round of 32 since 2009. Gonzaga will specifically be looking for redemption for last season's disappointing showing, where it earned its first No. 1 seed in school history only to be upset by Final Four darling-to-be Wichita State in the second round.

For Oklahoma State, it is the Cowboys' fourth trip to the Dance in Travis Ford's six seasons at the helm but the victories in those trips have been missing. The lone win for Ford came in his first season in 2008-09, as OSU beat Tennessee on a last-second shot from Byron Eaton in the 8/9 matchup. OSU is currently in its longest NCAA Tourney win drought since the year before Eddie Sutton was hired (1989-90).

Lastly, it is a chance for Oklahoma State to redeem what most believe to be a wasted season given the considerable expectations placed upon this team in the preseason. A tourney win is a must to keep the seat from getting even hotter for coach Ford.

RELATED: Previewing Tulsa vs. UCLA

 

Matchup

The Cowboys went from the biggest bust of the 2013-14 season to a vogue Final Four pick in rapid fashion the past few weeks but game No. 1 shouldn't be overlooked.

This Gonzaga team isn't as stout as last year's No. 1-seed squad but it isn't to be trifled with either.

The Bulldogs have a massive size advantage on Oklahoma State, Kamowski appears to be particularly daunting at 7-foot-1 and nearly 300 pounds. Dower is also a beast on the blocks at the power forward spot and the matchup between him and Le'Bryan Nash should be a fun one to watch.

Where OSU can take advantage and attempt to negate some of the size woes is with its athleticism and guard play.

The Zags have a talented backcourt of their own, but OSU has a considerable edge in the athleticism department with Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Brian Williams. Phil Forte's dead-eye shooting always posing a threat of its own, as well.

Gonzaga point guard Kevin Pangos is an excellent player and Smart seems to thrive when put into a high-level one-on-one matchup at the position. Smart has been exceptional in seven games since returning from his three-game ban, averaging 18.7 points, 6 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 steals to reclaim his place among the nation's elite on the college hoops scene. This matchup alone should draw a lot of eyes from around the country.

Markel Brown's health registers as a potential concern, as he was clearly hampered in the Cowboys' Big 12 tourney loss against the Jayhawks.

The Pokes are playing as well as they have all season and picked the right time to get on track but the lack of size and depth issues are tired story lines that won't go away and won't stop posing a concern.

If Brown is in top form and OSU keeps up its recent level of play, the Cowboys should be moving on to the Round of 32 to face — in all likelihood — No. 1-seeded Arizona.

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