After Kansas lost last weekend to Arkansas, UCLA is the top remaining seed in the West. That means that the Bruins’ road to the Final Four potentially got a bit easier. Tonight’s opponent, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, are the highest seed team UCLA will face until at least the Final Four.
That means that tonight’s game may be tougher than Saturday’s Regional Final if the Bruins get that far.
Gonzaga is a team that has had UCLA’s number.
The Zags are one of a few teams who leads the all-time series against the Bruins. Gonzaga leads the series, 5-2, and they have won the the past two meetings. UCLA’s last win against the Zags came on December 12, 2015 when the Bruins beat them, 71-66, in the only game played between the teams in Spokane, Washington.
Last season, Gonzaga beat the Bruins in a regular season matchup in Las Vegas. So, the Zags have a history of playing UCLA tough.
Let’s look at Mark Few’s starting five.
Gonzaga’s starters have been the same for all of their 35 games this season except for their regular season finale against Chicago State. But even in that game, only one starter was different. So, it’s a pretty safe bet that these guys will start for Gonzaga.
Of course, the Bulldogs are led by senior forward Drew Timme. Not only does Timme lead the Zags in scoring with an average of 21.1 points per game, he also leads the team in rebounds and assists. He’s averaging 7.3 rpg and he has 111 assists. He also leads the team in blocks with 34. If UCLA is looking for the guy to shut down on the Zags, he’s the guy the Bruins will look to stop.
Timme may be the most known player on Gonzaga, but the other starters have been very consistent as well. Junior guard Julian Strawther is second on the team in scoring with an average of 15.3 ppg. Strawther is tied for second on the team in rebounds with 6.1 per game. Among the starters, he is the best three-point shooter on the team with a 42.3% three-point shooting percentage. Only one Bulldog has a higher three-point percentage. That’s Colby Brooks who has played in only eight games this season and he’s made one of the two three-pointers he has taken this season.
Senior forward Anton Watson is the third Bulldog averaging in double figures with an average of 11.5 ppg. He is the guy who is tied with Strawther for second place in rebounds. Watson is a guy UCLA needs to pay attention to on the Bruins’ side of the court. That’s because he leads the team in steals with 66. That’s almost as many steals as the next two guys combined.
Senior guard Rasir Bolton is the fourth starter who averages more than 10 ppg. He’s averaging 10.3 ppg. He is another three-point threat for Gonzaga. He’s shooting 39.2% from behind the arc.
Sophomore guard Nolan Hickman rounds out the starting five for the Zags. His 8.2 ppg average makes him the only starter who doesn’t average in double figures. He is second on the team in assists with 109 as well as steals with 35.
Redshirt junior Malachi Smith is most likely to be the first guy off the Gonzaga bench. He averages 8.5 ppg and he has the highest three-point percentage of anyone on the team, but that also means that he hasn’t taken as many as some of the starters. Regardless of that, UCLA needs to be mindful of that when he’s on the floor.
Tonight’s game will be on CBS with Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner, Stan Van Gundy and Lauren Shehadi. If you prefer, you can listen to Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray. Just be sure to right-click on it so that you can open up another tab and have it going while you chat in the comments below. Listen to this evening’s game online.
This is your UCLA men’s basketball vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs NCAA March Madness Sweet Sixteen game thread. Here’s how to watch tonight’s game:
Teams: #2 seed UCLA Bruins (31-5) vs. #3 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-5)
Series Record: Gonzaga leads, 5-2
When: approximately 6:45 pm PT, Thursday, March 23, 2023
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV
TV: CBS with Kevin Harlan, Dan Bonner, Stan Van Gundy, and Lauren Shehadi
Live Stream: NCAA March Madness Live and the NCAA March Madness Live App
Local Radio: AM 1150 with Josh Lewin and Tracy Murray
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 134 & XM Ch. 202
National Radio: Westwood One with Ryan Radtke and P.J. Carlesimo
Online: The Varsity Network
Live Stats: March Madness Live
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U - Clap! Clap! Clap!
Good Evening All - - Here's to a great game and another Bruin win. Go Bruins!!!!
My prediction is that Mick starts off with Jaquez guarding Timme. We will see.
Hello Terry and AB! It is nearly game time. Go Bruins!!!
U CONN is playing really well. They look tough.
Feeling all the emotions right now - will be on the edge of my seat for the next few hours. I think the game could go either way but expect a battle all the way.
Coach Hurley not much humility in post game interview….opposite of Mick
Fully expect to see both Bona and Singleton play today along with the rest of the nation. Gonna be a great game-- I know Coach Cronin have our players ready to fly!
We are still 17 min. from start of game. Lots of time to get wild and ready.
8:30 to go til tip-off!
I really really dislike Drew Timme. He's so obnoxious on the court!
Bona not playing according to announcers. Need to stay out of foul trouble. Go Bruins - game on!!
Trppleton opens with three!
If Timme's gonna double Jaime down in the post, people will be open for easy layup!
JJ to Nwuba for two!
Timme going to go at Nwuba
Nwuba has to take those shots to keep D honest
Not Nwuba's shot!
Tricky to stop Timme if we have to be extra careful with fouls
We are going to need to be on our game offensively all 40 minutes. Can't afford bad possessions.
I'll take a 9-9 start.
Bailey for 3!
Bailey O-reb and a 2 on the break!
Bailey on fire!
Bailey cashing his first round check tonight.
Bailey has our last 9 points.
There is a turnover!!
Up by 5 - love it!!!
Jaquez with shooter's touch
Refs not calling much
Dang we could use Bona!
Bailey can't force it!