ESPN Host Picks South Dakota State to Upset Gonzaga

Posted March 17, 2017

Villanova, the top seed in the East, appears determined to defend its title starting with Mount St. Mary's; Gonzaga, the top seed in the West, is out to prove it can win a national title, opening with South Dakota State; the South's top seed, North Carolina, should overwhelm Texas Southern and Kansas isn't planning on being embarrassed by UC Davis. The West Coast Conference champion Bulldogs, who earned the top spot in the West Regional, will face Summit League Tournament champion South Dakota State, the 16th seed, on Thursday at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. Karnowski, Jordan Matthews, Zach Collins and Johnathan Williams all score in double figures.

The Bulldogs shot an terrible 31% from the floor in the opening frame, enjoying just a four point lead at halftime.

South Dakota State wrapped up its season winning eight of its last 10 games to finish with an 18-16 record overall.

For the Jacks, tomorrow's game is culmination of a 6 month journey, which saw them stuck at the bottom of the league to the standing on the summit.

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Williams had six points, 14 rebounds and two key blocks, and also held Daum to his lowest scoring output since January 18 to help the top-seeded Bulldogs pull away from The Summit League upstarts 66-46 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Vivint Arena. You could tell in their conference tournament their guys kind of understood, "It's March now, and this is what we do, we win these things and move on".

Mike Daum averages better than 25 points per game for the Jackrabbits, but he alone can't beat the Zags. Bucknell is loaded with accurate shooters and has won 14 of its last 16 games.

What: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. "And for us our focus is really with our team and what we need to do". In nearly a minute the 7-foot freshman scored six straight points to give the Zags their first lead of the game, 23-22. We have every bit as much right being in this tournament as any of the other 67 teams do, and we're going to come out (today) and play with some passion and show that.

Senior wing A.J. Hess has 66 3-pointers but his playing time has dropped since returning from an injury five games ago.

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The defense picked up the slack even with the offense shooting 39 percent from the field for the game.

Would Gonzaga win if they played like this on Saturday? "We knew on the defensive end we were doing our jobs, and eventually, the shots were going to fall", Collins said.

Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga. Williams-Goss transferred from Washington to becoming the most essential player on a Gonzaga team that only lost one game on the season. "(But) we've looked at challenges this year and said, "bring them on". Daum finished with just 17 on 7-of-16 shooting.

UP NEXT: Gonzaga plays the victor of Thursday afternoon's 8-9 matchup between Northwestern and Vanderbilt.

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