March Madness

Preview: 2 Gonzaga vs 7 Iowa

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#2 – Gonzaga

The game was never in question, but it surely did not feel that way for Mark Few. After jumping out to a 13-point lead in the first half, the Zags allowed North Dakota St. to remain within four to five possessions for the entire second half. The Bison received a career performance from forward Dexter Warner with 22 points but the Gonzaga front court of 7’1 Kyle Wiltjer, 6’10 Przemek Karnowski and 6’10 Domantas Sabonis proved too strong. Combining for 41 points and 25 rebounds, the Zags kept going inside throughout. Kevin Pangos added 18 points and five assists to continue to show he is one of the most underrated point guards in the country. Gonzaga moves on to face Iowa, who dominated Davidson, and this should be one of the premier matchups of inside players the tournament has to offer. Iowa’s Aaron White is a 6’8 NBA-caliber player. He is supported by 7’1 center Adam Woodbury, 6’10 Gabriel Olaseni and 6’8 Jared Uthoff. The matchup taking place in nearby Seattle should have the crowd favoring the Zags, but two straight first-round exits will also have their fans on edge for the #2 seed. Gary Bell Jr. will need to be more of a factor as his 1-7 from the three-point line was out of character. The Zags also struggled at the free throw line, going 19-28, which could be a factor in what promises to be a physical game. Coach Few’s game plan for White will be interesting to watch as he cannot afford foul trouble. Look for something out of the ordinary early to try and slow his offensive.

– Dan Barto

#7 – Iowa

The state of Iowa has another threat to make some noise in the tournament. The Hawkeyes concluded the regular season on a six-game winning streak, followed up by a poor performance against Penn State in the conference tournament, and then an impressive win against Davidson on Friday. Head coach Fran McCaffery is in the tournament for the second straight year with Iowa and is one of only 12 Division I coaches to guide four different teams into the tourney – Lehigh, UNCG, Siena and Iowa. After topping North Carolina in December, Iowa swept Ohio State in the regular season. On the flip side, they were swept by Wisconsin and lost home state match-ups to tournament teams Iowa State and Northern Iowa. The Hawkeyes relied on senior Aaron White down the stretch; in fact, he has led his team in scoring 18 times, in rebounding 14 times and in steals 13 times. This Iowa team is going to need to continue the thievery as they hold a 3.8 steals differential (top-10 nationally) in wins (averaging eight steals per game in wins). This matchup with Gonzaga will test Iowa’s necessity to create turnovers. Kevin Pangos against White is a battle between two seniors who have carried their respective teams for their entire careers.

– Dan Barto

Who Wins?

Yannis Koutroupis: Gonzaga wins

Cody Toppert: Gonzaga wins

Dan Barto: Gonzaga 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.