ANAHEIM, Calif. — As Texas Tech made its means by means of the Honda Heart hall Thursday after holding Michigan to 44 factors — the lowest-ever tally for the Wolverines within the NCAA event — Meek Mill’s “Desires and Nightmares” thumped so loudly within the crew’s locker room that the doorways rattled.
The Philly rapper’s ode to overcoming the chances — “I used to hope for instances like this/To rhyme like this/So I needed to grind like this” — may very well be the theme for a program that is reached the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season beneath third-year coach Chris Beard.
The Boilermakers hadn’t superior in 4 tries beneath Matt Painter, however they fought again to pressure OT and get rid of Tennessee.
The Bulldogs’ sturdy defensive play evokes reminiscences of the 2016-2017 crew that performed within the title recreation.
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Now, Texas Tech, which performs the most effective protection in America, will face Gonzaga, the most effective offense within the nation, in a Saturday battle that would ship the Purple Raiders to the primary Remaining 4 within the historical past of this system.
“Yeah, I am already kinda shaking, fascinated with how good Gonzaga is, however I did not know they have been the most effective crew offensively,” Beard informed ESPN after the sport. “I’ve received nice respect for his or her coach and their program, as does everyone in our locker room. We’ll have to protect at a excessive degree as a result of that is who we’re. I’ve all the time thought once you get to this event you have gotta be who you might be. That is clearly who we’re, and we gotta determine a technique to rating some factors, too.”
Texas Tech pissed off Ignas Brazdeikis and Michigan’s offensive playmakers all night time. Photograph by Harry How/Getty Pictures
It is simple to neglect concerning the West Regional.
Zion Williamson is just not in Anaheim. North Carolina and Kentucky are elsewhere, too. Tennessee and Purdue staged probably the greatest video games of the yr on Thursday. They performed in Louisville, the place Virginia additionally held off a recreation Oregon crew. The majority of the horny, pre-Remaining 4 storylines embody groups that didn’t make the journey to the Honda Heart, a Three.5-mile drive from Disneyland. But Saturday’s assembly between Gonzaga and Texas Tech might be a stat freak’s dream. Gonzaga, the nation’s most effective offensive crew, and Texas Tech, the nation’s most effective protection — all attributes equally supported by ESPN Analytics, Synergy Sports activities and KenPom alike — will compete in probably the most intriguing battle of the weekend.
“We’ve not watched any movie on them but,” projected lottery decide Jarrett Culver stated. “We was simply targeted on Michigan, however, we all know [Gonzaga is] a fantastic crew, probably the greatest groups within the nation, so we’re gonna should play considered one of our greatest video games to compete with them.”
There was notable offense for Tech — Culver poured in a game-high 22 factors and fellow guard Davide Moretti added 15 simply hours after viral video surfaced of Moretti’s household shocking him with a go to from Italy — however as normal with this crew, it was protection that carried the day.
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On Thursday, the Purple Raiders made historical past for Michigan basketball (the unhealthy form), which missed its first 18 Three-point makes an attempt. This all got here after Buffalo, which was averaging 84.5 PPG and had scored 91 factors within the first spherical in opposition to Arizona State, was held to only 58 factors in opposition to Texas Tech within the second spherical. Northern Kentucky, Buffalo and Michigan averaged simply 53.zero PPG in opposition to Texas Tech, a crew that has held seven groups beneath 50 factors this season.
Jarrett Culver addresses Texas Tech’s shutdown protection, holding Michigan to 44 factors.
“, whoever we play, it should be only a phenomenal defensive crew,” Mark Few stated after Gonzaga’s win over Florida State with out figuring out which crew he’d face within the Elite Eight. “And doubtless simply as laborious or tougher to attain than it was [Thursday]. So we will have to actually buckle down and be robust.”
The hype surrounding this matchup won’t surpass the hype across the different Elite Eight video games.
Virginia can full the exorcism of final season’s demons and a first-round loss to UMBC with a Remaining 4 run. The Cavaliers will face a Purdue squad that by some means misplaced a proficient senior class and nonetheless managed to enter Saturday’s recreation only one win from this system’s first Remaining 4 look since 1980.
Some mixture of Duke, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Houston, North Carolina, Auburn, LSU and Michigan State will create extra nationally related matchups Sunday than something that may unfold Saturday.
Let’s simply be trustworthy.
Gonzaga versus Texas Tech cannot compete. However for those who consider the numbers, no different Elite Eight encounter will high the purity of the one which might be staged in Anaheim. We would see Culver and Texas Tech suffocate a Gonzaga squad that received seven West Coast Convention video games by 30 factors or extra. Or, we might see the Bulldogs and their two projected first-round picks, Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura, reel off a crippling run and dominate Texas Tech, because it has different opponents all through the season.
It is an efficiency-fueled assembly with a visit to the Remaining 4 on the road.
Does it get a lot better than that? Not for the analytics acolytes.
“We present our crew clips of profitable basketball,” Beard stated. “We present quite a lot of Gonzaga clips. Their ardour, their togetherness, their braveness, how aggressive they’re. At this level, I am a fan, and right here within the subsequent hour or so, I’ve received to flip that and begin to get able to attempt to put together in opposition to them.”