We went with guards Trey Wertz and Tahj Eaddy in the two Gonzaga-Santa Clara matchups last year. Both are still prominent players for the Broncos, but we’ll change it up and go with forward Josip Vrankic.
Vrankic, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound junior, is coming off a breakout game with 22 points, including the winner with 9.4 seconds left in a 67-66 upset of Saint Mary’s last Saturday.
Vrankic (pronounced YO-sip VRANK-ich) isn’t necessarily a big scorer (10.3 points per game), but he contributes in multiple ways (team-high 27.8 minutes, 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 24 steals).
Vrankic and Wake Forest transfer DJ Mitchell, who has been coming off the bench, provide the bulk of Santa Clara’s interior presence with Guglielmo Caruso (11.6 points, 5.5 rebounds) sidelined by injury the last three games.
Killian Tillie, who did a nice job on Loyola Marymount’s Eli Scott last Saturday, will probably line up against Vrankic with Filip Petrusev on freshman center Jaden Bediako. Tillie is one of the most versatile players in the country.
Bediako doesn’t play a ton of minutes, so expect to see Mitchell early. Mitchell (11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds) and Vrankic should provide a good test for GU’s frontcourt.
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