Brody Schmidt/Associated Press
According to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge National Bracket, 67 percent of entry brackets have Oklahoma State winning against Gonzaga.
I believe that 100 percent of the brackets touting the Cowboys will have that pick wrong come Friday.
Gonzaga can defeat Oklahoma State for a couple of key reasons.
As already discussed, Karnowski and Dower should dominate the paint. This plays well into the strategy that has worked for the Bulldogs in recent months.
I was initially wary of Oklahoma State because I assumed the ultra-athletic backcourt duo of Marcus Smart and Markel Brown drastically outmeasured that of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr.
Marcus Smart is 6’4” and Markel Brown is 6’3”. The type of guard that has dominated the Zags over the past few seasons has been upwards of 6’6”.
Don't get me wrong. I expect those two guards to score in bunches, but to expect them to carry the Cowboys through this matchup is preposterous.
Bell Jr. is arguably one of the best on-ball defenders in the nation, and Pangos has dramatically improved as a defender this season. While they may not be able to stop these two talented guards, I believe they can slow them down.
Finally, the Cowboys are not a dominant rebounding team. Poor rebounding has killed the Bulldogs all season, but the Cowboys average .5 fewer rebounds per game than the Bulldogs.
This is a minor difference, but the fact that the two teams average nearly the same number of rebounds per game means that the Zags will not be dramatically outrebounded.
Oklahoma State's inability to exploit this key weakness allows Gonzaga to compete in this game.
Gonzaga defeated Oklahoma State at Gallagher-Iba Arena last year in a close game, and I like the Bulldogs in a close game again on Friday.