Key Things to Watch in UConn-Gonzaga Elite Eight Matchup

Key Things to Watch in UConn-Gonzaga Elite Eight Matchup


Key Things to Watch in UConnGonzaga Elite Eight Matchup

On Saturday, the third-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs (31-5, 14-2 West Coast) will face off against fourth-seeded UConn Huskies (28-8, 13-7 Big East) in a West Region Elite Eight matchup. Both teams have experienced deep March Madness runs before.

Gonzaga has been on an incredible run, currently the highest scoring college basketball team at 87.0 points per game. But they will face off against UConn, who ranks third in adjusted tempo and ninth in defensive efficiency.


UConn is one of the best teams in the country right now, boasting impressive talent on both ends of the floor. After a slow start to the season, Dan Hurley's squad has found its groove and now looks poised to make a run at the Final Four this weekend when they take on Gonzaga in an Elite Eight matchup on Saturday night.

UConn's offense is led by passing, as they average an assist on 63 percent of their field goals - ranking ninth nationally. Furthermore, the Huskies rank second in offensive rebound rate and have converted many second chances this tournament.

They allow a low number of turnovers, giving the ball away only 13.0 times per game compared to their opponents' average of 14.4.

On Thursday night, UConn took an early 29 point lead and shot 57.4% compared to 31.7% for Arkansas; they outrebounded Arkansas 43-31 while outscoring them 42-24 in the paint.

The Huskies boast a formidable frontcourt with two borderline stars they can count on each and every game: Jordan Hawkins and Adama Sanogo. Furthermore, they possess plenty of players who can make plays for them at the end of the shot clock as well.

It's also a team that has played tough defense this season. Last time out, they kept UCLA at bay and held them to 30 points in the second half - something which will be key for their success against Gonzaga this time around.

On the other side, Gonzaga is an impressive shooting team with the potential to score in large amounts. They average many three-pointers per game and shoot at a high percentage from deep, stretching defenses and getting stops when needed. Although they've made strides this year in terms of defense, they are not yet at full strength - which could prove costly against the Huskies.


UConn coach Dan Hurley has said the Huskies' dominance at the rim is one of their key ingredients to success. That's especially true for junior big man Adama Sanogo, who has had an outstanding tournament so far with 28 points against Iona and 24 against Saint Mary's.

Last week, Washington University's Huskies shutout Arkansas in the Sweet 16 with 31.7 percent shooting from the field and 31.3 percent from three-point range - good enough for a defensive rating of +90 points along with an impressive +9 rebounding margin that ranks second nationally.

Gonzaga, however, boasts a vast array of talent and always seeks new ways to attack its opponents. It's impossible to predict exactly how the Bulldogs will play in this Elite Eight matchup, but their energy in their come-from-behind win over UCLA should be taken into account.

Gonzaga's scoring success is heavily dependent on senior forward Drew Timme, and the senior has shown he can carry the load against top competition. His 19 first half points against UCLA proved crucial to their upset victory, so Gonzaga will need him to replicate that performance against the Huskies.

He must stay fresh so he can continue producing in crunch time, and also need to be more aggressive on offense to slow down UConn's frontcourt. Furthermore, it will be important for him to limit UConn's second chances on offense which could be an issue in this game as they have been very good at getting to the line (second in the nation) and making free throws this season.

Both teams rely heavily on their guards to get the job done, so if someone steps up and performs at an elite level this matchup could be much closer than expected. It's worth watching both Julian Strawther and Jordan Hawkins for this one as they both must be at their best if the Zags hope to make a deep run in the Final Four.


Basketball requires rebounding to stay in the game and give yourself extra chances for free throws while keeping opponents from scoring. Rebounding also causes them to take more difficult shots, frustrating them and giving your team a chance at victory.

On Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, both teams will be counting on rebounding to come out on top. According to FanDuel Sportsbook's odds, UConn has a slight edge for both moneyline and spread while Gonzaga stands at +110 odds.

Both teams have dominated their opponents on the glass in every game this tournament, but this should be one of the more physical encounters between these two. Neither side can afford to give away easy baskets on the boards and it promises to be a close, hard-fought contest in the West Region bracket final.

Rebounding is an essential skill that can benefit you on both ends of the court, but it's especially critical for defense. Box out offensive players on the perimeter and, when they take a shot, create a triangle of players boxed out around it.

You can do this by placing your body on the offensive player and moving toward them; alternatively, as a defender you may use your arms to block their shot away from you or pin their arm down. Alternatively, try using your legs to block the ball, or get out of the way of an offensive player trying to drive to the rim.

When getting ready to rebound, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Keep your core engaged as you gently bounce on the mat by lifting only your heels while keeping the balls of your feet on the floor. Doing this will strengthen all major muscle groups such as shoulders, thighs, torso, and legs.

Special Teams

The UConn-Gonzaga Elite Eight Matchup features two teams striving to reach the Final Four, both playing some of the best basketball in America this season. This game is a must-watch for March Madness fans as it will determine who advances to the Sweet 16.

Last night, Washington Huskies upset Arkansas to advance to the Elite Eight. At 28-8 and fourth seed in the West Region, Huskies offensive might proved too much for Arkansas in both ends of the floor as they won 88-65.

Guard Jordan Hawkins led the charge with 24 points, and his teammates were equally impressive on both sides of the ball. UConn's frontcourt duo of Adama Sanogo and Alex Karaban has been particularly impressive this tournament, averaging nearly 30 points per game so far.

Gonzaga, on the other hand, has been a surprise this tournament. They rallied from a 13-point deficit against UCLA in the Sweet 16 and have been an unbeatable team throughout this season with every win earned through hard work and determination.

Drew Timme has been particularly impressive this season, scoring at least 20 points in each of his team's three NCAA Tournament games. The junior hit a 3-pointer in all three contests and is averaging an impressive 18.5 points per game this year - leading the team in scoring.

Timme will need to be even more effective against UConn, as their defensive capabilities have allowed them to keep opponents off the board this year. With such a formidable opponent in UConn, Timme must up his game.

Therefore, the Bulldogs must be aggressive on offense and score from any distance possible. It will be a tough test for this team to overcome.

If the Zags can make this a high-scoring contest, they should have no problem taking care of business. Their record against teams that are favored by two points or more is impressive and they're 21-12 ATS this season - giving them an edge over Huskies who are only 5-12 ATS when playing as underdogs this year.

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