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The Elite Eight has arrived, and that means the remaining teams are one win away from the Final Four. March Madness has been epic this season, and we still have countless mega matchups left on the calendar. UConn and Gonzaga will battle it out in Las Vegas to keep their National Championship hopes alive. This is expected to be one of the most competitive games of the Elite Eight, so you won’t want to miss the action.
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It’s been an interesting journey for the UConn Huskies this season. The team started the season as one of the best teams in the country. They held the #1 ranking for a brief period, but then the season started to go south. The Huskies had a problem winning on the road, which continued throughout the season.
The team had a tough appearance in the Big East tournament, but they found a way to shake all the negativity in March Madness. UConn finished the season with a 28-8 record and a 13-7 mark in the Big East. This is one of the toughest conferences in the country, so it’s hard to judge UConn for their seven losses.
UConn punched their ticket to the Elite 8 after dominating Arkansas. It was the largest margin of victory in the round, thanks to Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo. Hawkins dropped 24 points, Sanogo contributed 18 more, and UConn rolled 88-65.
Sanogo and Hawkins stepped up in the Sweet 16, and that has been the narrative throughout the season. Sanogo is averaging 17.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He has been the MVP of the tournament thus far, always posting double figures and being physical in the paint. When Connecticut needed a March Madness spark, Sanogo has been the man.
Hawkins is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 16.1 points per game. Sanogo controls the paint and draws attention, which leads Hawkins open on the perimeter. The best part of his game is mid-range jumpers, and he hit many of them in the Elite Eight.
UConn started the tournament off with a victory over Iona. Rick Pitino’s squad challenged the Huskies in the opening round, but Sanogo took over in the second half. UConn then faced Saint Mary’s and proved the Big East is superior to the lackluster West Coast Conference. The second started with a win over Arkansas, and now they await the Bulldogs.
Check out our NCAA Tournament page covering game previews for each NCAA Tournament game.
Gonzaga is always regarded as one of the best teams in the country. However, their tournament record shows they have a problem finishing the job. Gonzaga makes a fairly deep run in the big dance every year, but their dreams get cut short early. Even though the Bulldogs play in the WCC, they’re still viewed as a major competitor in college basketball.
Drew Timme is the engine for Goznaga, and it showed in the team’s Sweet 16 comeback over UCLA. The Bulldogs went into the half down 13 and raced back with a vengeance to send the Bruins home. The Bulldogs have gotten into trouble throughout the tournament but have found ways to win. This is the sign of a great team.
Gonzaga ranks sixth in the KenPom rating, and they have the best offense in the country. Their defense has been questionable at times, but the backcourt has stepped up throughout the NCAA Tournament.
Drew Timme has consistently been the best player for Gonzaga throughout his career. However, in past seasons the forward has been surrounded by great talent. The Bulldogs are a talented team outside of Timme, but the team will go as far as the senior takes them in March Madness.
Timme is averaging 21.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He has been fantastic this season, and we expect this to continue in the Elite Eight. The other player to watch for Gonzaga is Julian Strawther, who has 16 points in the Sweet 16 win over UCLA. The guard averages 15.4 points per game and shoots nearly 48% from the field.
The Bulldogs opened the NCAA Tournament with a win over #14 Grand Canyon. They didn’t cover the spread in this game, only beating the #14 seed by 12. They faced TCU in the second round, and battled back from a double-digit deficit to win 84-81.
This win propelled them to the second weekend of action, where they bested UCLA. They now await the Huskies with a trip to Houston for the Final Four on the line.
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Gonzaga has made their mark on playing from behind in the NCAA Tournament. Winning from a deficit builds confidence but isn’t a sustainable strategy. The Bulldogs are lucky to be in this position as they’ve dug deep to pull off major comebacks. UConn is one of the most physical teams in the country, and they hold onto leads. Gonzaga cannot afford to fall behind by double digits at the half for a realistic opportunity to win this game.
Since 2002 when the KenPom rating came into effect, the National Champion has ranked in the top 40 offenses and top 22 defenses. Gonzaga has a tremendous offense, but they aren’t good in the backcourt. UConn’s physicality in the paint will be a massive mismatch, especially if the Bulldogs are forced to play from behind.
Sanogo and Timme will battle throughout the night, but we expect the Husky to win the battle. This domination will translate and show in the final outcome of the game.
UConn ATS Record: 24-11-1
Gonzaga ATS Record: 14-20-1
PICK: UConn -2 (-110) at DraftKings
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Game Time & Date: MAR. 25 8:49 p.m. ET
TV Network: TBS
Streaming: March Madness Live App
Ex. Big Ten & Big East in the NCAA Tournament
Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.More info on Tanner Kern
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