Despite a shocking WCC Tournament loss, Gonzaga survived and clinched the West's No. 1 seed. Fairleigh Dickinson and Prairie View A&M meet for the right to play the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga, yet again, had a stellar season. The Bulldogs finished with an overall mark of 30-3 and a 16-0 record in the WCC. Gonzaga’s losses came to Tennessee, North Carolina and Saint Mary’s in the conference tournament championship game. The Bulldogs are led by likely NBA top pick Rui Hachimura, who averages 20.1 points per game.
Representing the Northeast Conference this year will be New Jersey-based Fairleigh Dickinson. Despite their 6-11 start, the Knights rallied to finish 17-13 with a 12-6 NEC record, a share of the NEC regular season title and the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. An upset of top-seeded Saint Francis in the NEC Tournament Championship secured their sixth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Knights' offense got the job done in the latter half of the season, but will need to show a lot more consistency to claim the team's long-awaited first NCAA Tournament win.
Prairie View A&M is back in the NCAA tournament after a 21-year absence. After starting the season at an abysmal 1-11, the Panthers won 18 of their next 19 games to claim the SWAC regular season title. Prairie View then easily knocked off Alcorn State and Grambling State before a 92-86 win over Texas Southern secured a 22-12 record, the SWAC Tournament Title, and the school's second-ever spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Date: Thursday, March 21
Time: 7:27 p.m. ET
TV Channel: truTV
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Announcers: Andrew Catalon / Steve Lappas // Lisa Byington
Prediction: Despite a weak conference, Gonzaga has more than proven that when it is a high seed, it deserves to be. This year's team proved its potential against a fully health Duke squad early in the year, and aside from the WCC title game, its only hiccups were against elite teams.
Whomever the Zags face will be supremely overmatched. Gonzaga advances to face the Syracuse-Baylor winner.