FORTH WORTH, Texas — Gonzaga is set to test its powerhouse offense against the top defense of Virginia when the top-ranked Bulldogs take on the No. 16 ranked Cavaliers at Dickies Arena on Saturday.
Tip-off time for this game in Fort Worth, Texas, is slated for 4 p.m. ET and it is live on CBS. Surprisingly, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is giving Virginia a 51.9% chance to pull off the upset.
“We’re excited for the challenge,” Virginia forward Kadin Shedrick said. “I think it’ll be cool to get a marquee game in before the conference play starts. We’re all really looking forward to it.”
Gonzaga is ranked third in the country with points per game at 94.7 and is allowing 77.0 at the other end.
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However, the Bulldogs (6-0) are expected to face a tough challenge on Friday against a Virginia side that is stifling its opponents this season, allowing just 54.0 points per game defensively and scoring 74.4 on the offensive side.
Gonzaga has won all three of its games against ranked teams this season. They come into the game with three Top 15 wins against Kansas, West Virginia, and the then-No. 3 Iowa, which they defeated 99-88 last week in an entertaining matchup.
Meanwhile, Virginia (4-1), which is facing its first ranked opponent of the season, is coming off a 76-40 win over William & Mary in its most recent game.
Preparing For Tough Battle Against Bulldogs
“When you play a team as talented and explosive as Gonzaga, I don’t know what prepares you for that,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said.
“I know how good they are, and I know what we’ll have to do at a very high level to be in a game like that and make it competitive and hopefully be successful.”
The Bulldogs have a well-rounded roster that is being led by upperclassmen – Drew Timme, Corey Kispert, and Joel Ayayi who have combined to score 54 percent of the team’s points so far this season, according to the stats gurus.
Kispert is averaging 20.8 points and five rebounds per game this season, while Timme is putting out 20.3 points and 7.5 rebounds through six games and Ayayi is contributing 9.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.7 steals.
Freshman and NBA prospect Jalen Suggs is having an understanding season so far, averaging 16.3 points, 5.8 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game for the Bulldogs.
Sam Hauser averages 13.4 points per game and 6.0 rebounds for Virginia while connecting on 43.5 percent of the 23 3-pointers he’s attempted.
Jay Huff is scoring 11.6 points and dishing out 6.2 rebounds, while Trey Murphy III is averaging 11.6 points per game and shooting 52.4% from 3-pointers for the Cavaliers.
Last time these two teams met, Virginia dominated the game for a 108-87 victory on Jan 3, 2007.
“Obviously, Virginia is one of those programs that’s always going to be in the hunt for a No. 1 seed year in and year out, and this year will be no different,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
“Tony is just a fabulous coach. It’s going be a huge challenge playing that style and their toughness and discipline, but it’ll be great for us moving forward to get us ready for the NCAA Tournament.”