A lot of folks are looking past tonight's game against Portland in anticipation of the showdown against our mid-major brethren Butler on Saturday. This is understandable. Both teams are in the national spotlight year after year. And, highly successful mid-major programs that most other teams look to emulate. It also helps that both teams are ranked in the top 20. This is a chance for both programs to show up the other, and set themselves up as the top dog (Bulldog).
But first things first. We have a game tonight in the Chiles Center 7 p.m. PST. Portland always seems to play us tough as Coach Reveno gets his troops up for these games. The place will be packed, as is usually the case when the Zags come to town.
Coach Reveno has apparently been watching too much tape of the Zags based on his recent Tweet:
"First sign I may have watched enough Gonzaga film this week? Kelly Olynyk's hair is growing on me."
That is some funny stuff! But the reality of it is is that the Pilots do not have a great team this year (record 8-10). While there is a low probability that they can pull off the upset, they do have a player that will be playing extra hard to get our attention. He is Forward Ryan Nichols, he leads the team in scoring at 13.4 ppg and he hails from Spokane. When asked why he went to Gonzaga Prep but didn't get an offer to play for the Zags, his answer was "they didn't offer me." He will definitely be out to prove the staff was wrong in that recruitment.
Portland does have a pretty good rebounding team and leads us statistically in both offensive and defensive categories. We have been out rebounded the past two games. So, this will be a good test to see if the Zags have improved any.
The Zags have won 18 straight in the series with Portland and I expect that trend to continue. Coach Few said it would be nice to get some 30 or 40 point blow-outs. Too many of our games have been closer than they should have been. Let's see if we can get them down early and keep the throttle on. It would also be nice to get minutes, and valuable experience, for our lesser used players. Hopefully, Karno and Draino get significant playing time.
There is a danger of Gonzaga looking past Portland in this one, but I still feel an easy win is on the menu. Zags by 20+.