Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule won’t soften anytime soon, especially if the Bulldogs manage to ring up a few victories this week at the Phil Knight Legacy tournament in Portland.
The sixth-ranked Bulldogs should be significant favorites facing Portland State in Thursday’s PK85 opener at 9:30 p.m., but things only get tougher from there.
With a win, Gonzaga’s next opponent will come from the victor of Thursday’s 7 p.m. contest between Purdue and West Virginia.
Regardless of how the Bulldogs fare in Friday’s second-round game, they’re guaranteed to play another high-major opponent – Duke, Xavier, Florida or Oregon State – in Sunday’s finale.
The Zags have spent the past three days scouting Portland State, if not a few of the other teams they could face in Portland, but we break down all seven ahead of GU’s second appearance at the PK85.
Portland State (2-2)
Results: 98-91 loss to Portland; 83-71 loss to Seattle U; 113-40 win over Evergreen State; 79-66 win over Oregon State.
Coach: Jase Coburn (second year, 16-19)
Three to watch: G Jorell Satterfield (17.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg), G Cameron Parker (14.0 ppg, 5.5 apg), G Hunter Woods (12.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
Scouting report: The Vikings are transfer-heavy, with their top three scorers arriving in the Big Sky Conference after stops at other midmajor programs. Portland State’s defense looked vulnerable after opening losses to Seattle U and Portland in which the Vikings conceded 181 points, but Coburn’s group turned things around in a 79-66 win over Oregon State, their first in the school’s series with the Beavers.
No. 24 Purdue (3-0)
Results: 84-53 win over Milwaukee; 63-44 win over Austin Peay; 75-70 win over Marquette.
Coach: Matt Painter (18th year, 387-192)
Three to watch: C Zach Edey (20.7 ppg, 13.7 rpg, 3.3 bpg), G Braden Smith (10.7 ppg, 2.3 spg), G Brandon Newman (9.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Scouting report: Zach Edey is carrying much of the load for a Boilermakers team that’s not as strong in the backcourt without fifth overall NBA draft pick Jaden Ivy, or in the frontcourt without Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Trevion Williams. Edey, who stands 7-foot-4 but moves fluidly for someone of his size, would present a unique challenge for Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, who hasn’t faced an elite college shot blocker since practicing with Chet Holmgren last season.
West Virginia (4-0)
Results: 76-58 win over Mount St. Mary’s; 81-56 win over Pittsburgh; 75-57 win over Morehead State; 92-58 win over Pennsylvania.
Coach: Bob Huggins (16th season, 330-188)
Three to watch: G Erik Stevenson (14.0 ppg, 1.5 apg), F Tre Mitchell (13.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg), G Joe Toussaint (10.5 ppg, 3.3 apg)
Scouting report: Amid reports linking Gonzaga to the Big-12, Huggins stirred up fans in Spokane when he said a move to the conference would be a “rude awakening” for the Bulldogs. But Huggins hasn’t had much success against GU in the past, losing all five matchups between the teams, including a tightly contested game in the 2017 Elite Eight. Erik Stevenson, who began his career at WVU before transferring to Washington, is back with the Mountaineers and shooting 53% from the 3-point line.
No. 8 Duke (4-1)
Results: 71-44 win over Jacksonville; 84-38 win over South Carolina Upstate; 69-64 loss to No. 6 Kansas; 92-58 win over Delaware; 74-57 win over Bellarmine.
Coach: Jon Scheyer (first season, 4-1)
Three to watch: C Kyle Filipowski (15.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg), G Jeremy Roach (12.2 ppg, 3.6 apg), F Mark Mitchell (11.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg).
Scouting report: It’s only been a calendar year since Gonzaga and Duke met in Las Vegas, but the Blue Devils have an entirely different makeup this season, including the first-year head coach. Four of the eight Duke players who appeared in last year’s game were selected in the first round of the NBA draft and one other was taken in the second round. Roach, the only returning Blue Devil who played against GU, is the only nonfreshman in a starting unit that includes three five-star prospects.
Results: 81-45 win over Stony Brook; 88-78 win over Kennesaw State; 76-75 loss to Florida Atlantic; 76-67 win over Florida State.
Coach: Todd Golden (first season, 3-1)
Three to watch: F Colin Castleton (25.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg), G Will Richard (14.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg), G Kyle Lofton (9.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg).
Scouting report: Golden and the Zags saw plenty of each other while the 37-year-old was at San Francisco, but it’s unclear who that familiarity would favor – if it did at all – in a potential meeting Sunday in Portland. Golden’s first four games in Gainesville have yielded mixed results, but if nothing else the coach can rely on Castleton, a fifth-year senior big man who’s the nation’s second-leading scorer and making 55% of his field goals.
Results: 96-73 win over Morgan State; 86-64 win over Montana; 78-65 win over Fairfield; 81-79 loss to No. 12 Indiana.
Coach: Sean Miller (first season, 3-1)
Three to watch: F Jack Nunge (17.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg), F Zach Freemantle (15.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 5.0 apg), G Souley Boulm 14.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg)
Scouting report: Miller’s 12-year tenure at Arizona ended after the 2020-21 season, amid a federal investigation into college basketball corruption. The coach took a year off before accepting the open position at Xavier – Miller’s first college stop, in 2004-09. The Musketeers are receiving Top 25 votes and bring a balanced offense into the PK85, with five double-digit scorers and four players averaging at least 13 points.
Oregon State (3-1)
Results: 73-70 win over Tulsa; 60-43 win over Florida A&M; 83-66 win over Bushnell University; 79-66 loss to Portland State.
Coach: Wayne Tinkle (ninth season, 119-138)
Three to watch: F Glenn Taylor Jr. (16.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg), G Jordan Pope (15.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Dexter Akanno (10.8 ppg, 3.3 apg).
Scouting report: Oregon State fans were optimistic a surprise run to the 2021 Elite Eight would be a springboard for the Beavers, but Tinkle’s program has managed just a 6-29 record since and enters this week’s tournament coming off a double-digit loss to Portland State. The Beavers are committing almost 15 turnovers per game and shooting just 25% from beyond the arc through four contests.
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