West - No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State

Posted Mar 16, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview, Breakdown & Pick: West Region – No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State

Line: Oklahoma State -3
Why To Pick Gonzaga: The program that's so used to NCAA Tournament success likes to run and get moving, and it has the style to match Oklahoma State's pace. The big key could be on the boards with a few second chance points possibly the difference. The Bulldogs can get red hot shooting the ball and might not have a problem going on runs.
Why To Pick Oklahoma State: Gonzaga likes to run, but Oklahoma State does it better. The Cowboy backcourt doesn't turn the ball over, with Marcus Smart the type of diffence-maker who can lead the way through a round or two by himself. Yes, the Bulldogs can shoot, but the Cowboys defend well all over the floor.
The Pick: Oklahoma State 87-81. Get your popcorn ready, because this is going to be a wild one. The Cowboys appear to be well past their brutal February losing streak, showing off the firepower to hang with anyone now that Smart is back full force.

Gonzaga Bulldogs
Head coach: Mark Few Record: 28-6 Conference: West Coast

What You Need To Know: The Bulldogs have thrived by pushing the tempo, but they also play under control and are blessed with quality, unselfish shooters. Mark Few's team also plays tight defense and keeps opponents off the glass. Big Sam Dower is a 6-9, 243-pound man in the paint - he's a threat to put up a double-double every night. He averaged 15.0 points and 7.1 rebounds, and he boasts an array of post moves that will keep opponents guessing. Guard Kevin Pangos brings some balance to the floor. He can knock down the open jumper, but he also does a great job of using his perimeter shooting to set up drives to the bucket. Garry Bell, Jr., and Przemek Karnowski are solid role players who play with a lot of emotion and do the little things on the court. Senior guard David Stockton, the son of NBA Hall-of-Famer John Stockton, has developed as a point guard and brings confidence to the floor.
Strengths:Scoring, Shooting, Three Point Shooting
Weaknesses: Free Throw Shooting, Blocked Shots, Turnover Margin
How Far Will They Go?: Even if the Zags can somehow get by Oklahoma State, they're not going to figure out Arizona.

Oklahoma State Cowboys
Head coach: Travis Ford Record: 21-12 Conference: Big 12

What You Need To Know: The Cowboys might have the most intriguing team in the tournament. They can be dominant, and they looked the part reaching the top 10 in the rankings before a miserable February put them squarely on the bubble. But they righted the ship and now are playing their best basketball of the season at the right time. Marcus Smart is the straw that stirs the drink, with a combination of versatility and athleticism that makes him difficult to contain. He's not a great outside shooter, but few players are better at getting to the bucket and finishing. Markel Brown is every bit the scorer as Smart, and he's a better outside shooter to help balance the floor. Le'Bryan Nash is a banger inside who boasts a variety of post moves, and OSU is at its best when he's aggressive. Phil Forte III brings an outside punch and helps open the floor for Smart and Brown. The Cowboys will be dangerous in the Dance.
Strengths:Turnover margin, Scoring, Steals
Weaknesses: Rebounding, Scoring Defense, Assists
How Far Will They Go?: If Marcus Smart gets red hot, they'll get past Gonzaga and give Arizona fits.