Tonight is possibly the biggest game in the history of Xavier basketball. Xavier and Gonzaga for a trip to the Final Four. To get you ready for the game, we talked to Peter Woodburn over at Slipper Still Fits. He had some interested comments about this year’s Gonzaga team.
1.) Gonzaga vs Xavier! Two Jesuit teams trying to get to the Final 4 for the first time. What is the mood in Spokane right now?
After the West Virginia game, the mood has moved to Final Four or bust. There was a lot of talk about Press Virginia, and rightfully so, that game had a lot of people absolutely panicked. The Zags have been one of the best teams in college hoops for much of the season, and people have been talking about that ever elusive Final Four appearance. Now, the Zags are one step closer to that reality. Seeing Gonzaga grind out that rock fight against West Virginia has a lot of people back in their happy place, especially considering the slow start against South Dakota State and the terrible second half against Northwestern.
2.) What makes Nigel Williams-Gross so good?
NWG is one of the best point guards in the country because he is basically unfazed by pressure. Granted, he hasn't had the best tournament (from a shooting perspective), but he is a big guard, who is a stellar defender, and a phenomenal passer. Most of all, he knows when he has to take a game over, or be the guy that takes the big shot. He has fantastic vision, and if he is running down the lane from the top of the three point line, you can fully expect an unbeatable teardrop floater to exasperate the opponent. NWG doesn't make a lot of mistakes in the game, and he is the cog that has kept this Gonzaga machine running so well.
3.) Did the Gonzaga faithful care much about the BYU loss, or have eyes been focused on March the entire time?
I think a lot of people did...at first. The idea of being the first team to run the regular season and then win the championship was something a lot of us bought into. Then, everyone took a step back and realized that we still had to win nine games after that BYU contest, and six of those would be the hardest games of the season courtesy of the NCAA Tournament. So that faded fast. The Zags have always been a team focused on March (although sometimes the record hasn't shown that).
4.) I stopped in Spokane for a night while on a cross country road trip and thought it was a cool city. Where is the must eat place there?
Frank's Diner is always a stop because you are eating brunch in an old train car, and somehow nothing seems to encapsulate Spokane better. If you are needing something in the afternoon-ish time, the No-Li Brewery is right near campus and churning out some rather nice brews.
5.) Game prediction?
Xavier has had a great run, but I feel like the Gonzaga defense is going to be too much for them to overcome. Gonzaga has made it this far without their offense playing anywhere close to its maximum potential. The players can taste it, and I feel like this might be the breakout game. Xavier will have a hard time dealing with both Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and Gonzaga is going to take home another grinder of a game.