WVU Set for Sweet 16 Showdown With Gonzaga

Stephen M. Dowell  Zuma Press  Icon Sportswire

Beating West Virginia will take a complete game from Gonzaga.

- That West Virginia remains in the NCAA tournament indicates the Mountaineers have neither need nor interest in changing what produced 24 regular-season wins and now four more in the postseason.

Tonight's game will air live on TBS, with Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lewis Johnson handling the broadcast.

Gonzaga will look to use their size and experience to overcome West Virginia's press defense.

There are few programs that more accurate reflections of the men running them than Gonzaga and West Virginia, which will face off Thursday night at SAP Center in the first two West Region Sweet 16 matchups.

"To be successful in our game is about taking things away from people, and they do a terrific job of taking things away". They've got a great following.

Did you know?: Gonzaga ranks first nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency at 87.3 and is the only team nationally among the top 10 in offensive and defensive ratings. The defense was pretty impressive, allowing just 66.8 points per game.

A big game from point guard Nigel Williams-Gross will be important if Gonzaga hopes to take down the Mountaineers.

Make no mistake, his players understand that as the perennial underdog, they have a duty to the coach, to the university, to the state and mostly to themselves to push forward and do not believe that in anyway Gonzaga can't be beaten. They nearly turned the ball over that many times in the first half Saturday. The Mountaineers won games 63-53 and 51-50 in the Big 12 Tournament. Their last time being in 2010, when they advanced to the Final Four before losing to Duke 78-57, who went on to win the National Championship.

It didn't in the Mountaineers' 83-71 Round of 32 victory over former-Big East rival Notre Dame.

"He's always just been an excited guy - play hard and play with a lot of passion", Walton said.

Getting inside isn't easy, though.

No. 1 seed Gonzaga (34-1) vs.

The Zags also have height to their advantage with 7 foot 1 center Przemek Karnowski. He doesn't yield space inside and has blocked 35 shots. "But I think that's kind of part of why we did".

This should be a solid matchup of strong defensive teams. Williams is a transfer from Missouri, where he led the Tigers in blocked shots in 2015.

At the same time, the Mountaineers have to limit the penetration from Zach Collins and Nigel Williams-Goss. MI has won seven in a row, a streak that began with the team's last game of the regular season.

Few nevertheless had a hunch the new talent could produce a new strength. "I came in as probably a cocky high school kid who thought I knew everything about the world, and senior year was on my own a little bit".

Nobody gets to practice against a peskier defense every day than the Mountaineers. The game will be played in San Jose, which is a long drive from the Zags' campus in Spokane, Wash. When the Fighting Irish backed off the perimeter to protect the paint, WVU was happy to shoot open jumpers. Still, West Virginia does not have enough size to match Gonzaga in the post and the Bulldogs are not likely to get as flustered by the press as the Mountaineers' previous opponents.

Huggins doesn't go around addressing a void in his career that has gone beyond 800 career victories with only two active coaches with more, but you know that this man is so driven to win, that is something he wants to fill.

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