Kelly Olynyk: Zag's Big Man Key to Avoiding Wichita State Upset

Daine PavloskiAnalyst IIMarch 23, 2013

Olynyk had a huge game against Southern and will continue to dominate throughout the NCCA tourney.
Olynyk had a huge game against Southern and will continue to dominate throughout the NCCA tourney.Harry How/Getty Images

Kelly Olynyk and the Gonzaga Bulldogs barely escaped the round of 64 against Southern University. Southern scared the Bulldogs for most of the game, but the Zags were able to make the big plays when they needed them and will take on ninth-seeded Wichita State for a spot in the Sweet 16. 

Like the game against Southern, Olynyk will be the key to a Gonzaga victory. 

The game was Olynyk's coming out party to the national audience, but his 21 points and 10 rebounds were all in a day's work for the redshirt junior from British Columbia. 

Olynyk averaged almost 18 points and eight rebounds per game throughout the regular season and has put up over 20 points 12 times this season, including the game against Southern and back-to-back 33- and 31-point outings in January. 

The seven-footer has been one of the biggest weapons for the Bulldogs all season long and showed it against Southern. Every time the game got close, they gave it to Olynyk down low, and he got layups at will from the left block. Olynyk has exceptional footwork and has made great strides in improving his post game, which will be a major factor in the game against Wichita State. 

The Shockers beat Pitt for the right to take on the No. 1 seed Bulldogs on Saturday. The game wasn't exceptionally close, with a final score of 73-55, Wichita gave up a decent day to one Pitt player in particular; Steven Adams. Adams, a freshman, hung 13 points and 11 rebounds on the Shockers in a losing effort.

Why is that important? Adams is a seven-footer. 

Wichita State may have got the win in the second round, but not before they gave up a big night to a seven-footer, which is exactly what they get with Gonzaga's Olynyk. 

Olynyk's scoring ability and high-percentage shots will help the Bulldogs glide into the Sweet 16 against the Wichita State Shockers on Saturday and will be pivotal for Gonzaga throughout the rest of the NCAA tournament.