West Region: Fairleigh Dickinson vs Gonzaga Prediction
Fairleigh Dickinson vs Gonzaga Preview
If you caught the play-in game between Fairleigh Dickinson and Prairie View A&M, you saw a battle for the first 30-35 minutes, then FDU began to flex their underdog muscle and pull away eventually winning, 82-76.
Their prize for the win? Top-seed Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs and 16th-seeded Farleigh Dickinson will play in a West Region first-round game in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
Gonzaga will be heading into this game with a one-game losing streak, as they were upset by Saint Mary’s 60-47, in the WCC Tournament final.
“That was super tough for us,” said forward Brandon Clarke, “but it will be good for us because now we kind of have that fire and hype to want to go play again.”
Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed for the third time in its history and was also on the top line in 2017, when the Bulldogs reached their first Final Four and busted through to the title game, losing 71-65 to North Carolina.
“It’s an honor to be the No. 1 seed,” said coach Mark Few, whose teams have reached four consecutive Sweet 16s. “Especially with the way this year has gone, I think everyone started talking, thinking about this a while ago.”
FDU will have to contend with the Zags elite size and toughness. Junior forward Rui Hachimura is averaging 20.1 points and has NBA draft lottery talent. Senior point guard Josh Perkins averages 6.5 assists, helping Gonzaga lead the nation in field goal percentage (53.2). Clarke averages 16.5 points and 3.1 blocks, shoots a national-best 69.3 percent from the field and is one of four finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.
Zach Norvell Jr., Corey Kispert or Killian Tillie — a 6-10 junior who returned for the WCC tournament after recovering from a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot — all are capable of making big impacts.
To say this is a huge disadvantage for the Knights would be an understatement–but they are up for the challenge.
FDU senior guard Darnell Edge, the Northeast Conference tournament Most Valuable Player, scored a career-high 33 points last night and boosted his team-leading average to 16.9 points per game. He drained 7 three-pointers in 9 attempts and is hitting 48 percent from deep this season.
If he hits from long-range with that type of success against the 1-seed, he can single-handedly keep the Knights in the game.
Dan’s Bet: Over 152.5
Bracket Pick: Gonzaga
Score Prediction: Gonzaga 101 FDU 60