Pittsburgh pod: Gonzaga, West Virginia, Ohio State, Loyola

Seventh-seeded Gonzaga will take on No. 10 West Virginia on Thursday in Pittsburgh in the East Region. The other side of the bracket has No. 2 Ohio State facing No. 15 Loyola-Maryland.

Here’s a look at the four teams:

NO. 7 GONZAGA

Coach: Mark Few

Record: 25-6

Strength: Gonzaga has had a good blend of inside-outside production. The Bulldogs rely on Robert Sacre, Elias Harris and reserve Sam Dower for interior points while the freshman backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. have proven to be capable scorers and perimeter shooters.

Season highlight: The Bulldogs hung double-digit losses on visiting Saint Mary’s (73-59) and BYU (74-63) over a two-week span in February, then thumped the Cougars by 19 points in the WCC tournament semifinals in Las Vegas.

Style of play: The Bulldogs aren’t as potent offensively as many of their recent teams, but GU has been fairly solid defensively and they’re plus-6.5 rebounding per game.

NO. 10 WEST VIRGINIA

Coach: Bob Huggins

Record: 19-13

Strength: Typical of the Big East Conference and a Huggins-coached team, West Virginia is a tough, physical outfit. Senior forward Kevin Jones has 20 double-doubles this season. He operates effectively inside and has stepped outside to hit 34 3-pointers.

Season highlight: The Mountaineers knocked off then-No. 9 Georgetown, 74-62, behind Darryl ‘Truck’ Bryant’s 25 points and Jones’ 22. West Virginia also defeated Kansas State in double overtime in Wichita as Jones scored 30 points in 49 minutes of playing time.

Style of play: The Mountaineers have a strong frontcourt with Jones and Deniz Kilicli, a pair of 260-pounders who have helped the team to a plus-6.8 rebounding margin. Bryant has made 69 3-pointers and attempted 218 free throws. The Mountaineers have struggled from behind the 3-point arc (30.2 percent).

NO. 2 OHIO STATE

Coach: Thad Matta

Record: 27-7

Strength: The Buckeyes are stingy defensively (59.1 points allowed per game) and efficient offensively (48.3 percent FG, 74.8 ppg). Sophomore forward Jared Sullinger is a force inside. The Sporting News’ first-team All-American averages 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Season highlight: Sullinger scored 21 points as Ohio State ripped Duke 85-63. The Buckeyes also have impressive wins over Florida, Indiana, Michigan (twice), Wisconsin, Purdue (twice) and Michigan State.

Style of play: Sullinger is often the first option, but the Buckeyes have capable scorers in sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas (15.4 points) and senior guard William Buford (14.7). Sophomore guard Aaron Craft averages 8.6 points and 4.6 assists.

NO. 15 LOYOLA-MARYLAND

Coach: Jimmy Patsos

Record: 24-8

Strength: The Greyhounds feature a balanced attack with five players averaging between 13.5 points and 9.1 points. Junior forward Erik Etherly was first-team All-MAAC and sophomore guard Dylon Cormier made second team.

Season highlight: Loyola-Maryland defeated Fairfield 48-44 in the MAAC tournament title game to clinch the school’s second NCAA tournament berth. Etherly was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. The Greyhounds also split with Iona, which received an at-large berth to the NCAAs.

Style of play: Loyola-Maryland is primarily a defensive-minded club, limiting foes to 43 percent shooting and 63.8 points per game. The Greyhounds average 7.8 steals and force opponents into 14.2 turnovers per game.



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