March Madness

Preview: 2 Gonzaga vs 11 UCLA

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#2 – Gonzaga

Gonzaga took advantage of the local crowd in a 87-68 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. Kyle Wiltjer turned in another great performance with 24 points and seven rebounds, including 4-6 from the three point line. The Zags ended the game with 20 assists. Kevin Pangos was at the top of his point guard play, leading them each time Iowa cut the lead. Mark Few had his team ready for Aaron White, as the Hawkeyes’ leading score was held to six points in the first half. A Mark Gasell layup with 10:51 to go cut the lead to 11. However, that was the last time Iowa had a shot that was not a jumper until the game was out of reach. Domantas Sabonis dominated the paint with his 18-point, nine-rebound night with Wiltjer focusing on the perimeter. Gonzaga shot 62.3 percent from the arc with mostly wide open looks. The Zags played with great purpose as they have not advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in five years. They looked as much like a Final Four team as anyone last weekend. The rest and their experience will have them ready for their game with UCLA in Houston.

– Dan Barto

#11 – UCLA

After a first round barn-burner against a tough SMU team, Steve Alford’s UCLA squad faced off against UAB with a second consecutive Sweet Sixteen trip on the line. In round two, it was the mainstay Norman Powell and three-point onslaught of Bryce Alford (9-11 3FG, 27 points). Against UAB everything came together, including all five starters scoring in double figures. The biggest of those performances came from Tony Parker (28 points, 16 rebounds) who dominated the interior after having an up and down season. If he can stay out of foul trouble and keep his moves simple, that is a big plus for a UCLA team that looks for a trip to the Elite Eight. Alford got it done again, Isaac Hamilton was efficient on his way to 13 points, four rebounds and seven assists, and Kevon Looney was outstanding on the glass finishing with 10 points and 17 rebounds. The Bruins will hope for such a team effort against a Gonzaga team that is deep and skilled. Staying out foul trouble, defending the Zags big men and controlling big play maker Kevin Pangos will be key if Alford is to punch his Bruins program through to that ever-elusive Elite Eight.

– Cody Toppert

Who Wins?

Yannis Koutroupis: Gonzaga wins

Cody Toppert: Gonzaga wins

Dan Barto: UCLA wins

Dan Barto has been with the IMG Academy basketball program since 2003. Prior to becoming the Head Skills Trainer, Barto was the IMG Academy basketball program’s Developmental Head Coach. Dan has trained over 100 current or former NBA players and coached over 40 Division I players. You can follow IMG on Twitter @IMGAcademy or on Facebook here.

Cody Toppert is a former standout player at Cornell University (one of the top three-point shooters in Ivy League history), who played eight years professionally (NBA D-League, Spain, Italy, Germany) and now serves as the Director of Basketball Development at ELEV|8 Sports Institute (Ganon Baker Basketball Academy). He trains professional players (five 2015 NBA Draftees) and coaches prep schoolers for Ganon Baker’s nationally ranked prep school program. Toppert also serves as a contributing writer for FastModel Sports. You can follow Cody and ELEV|8 on social media @Topp33 and @E8hoops.