This is a fascinating matchup at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., between a powerhouse offensive team and a swarming defensive team, between an established big-time coach and perhaps the game’s rising coaching star. Gonzaga leads the nation in scoring, at 88.8 points per game. Texas Tech leads the nation in defensive efficiency and just held a good Michigan team to 44 points by denying drives and passes into the lane and contesting threes. Michigan missed its first 18 three-pointers. Can Tech be as active and physical against Gonzaga without getting into foul trouble?
Matchup to watch: Texas Tech plays a three-guard lineup and defends with quickness. Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura is stronger than the Red Raiders’ Tariq Owens, but can Owens limit Hachimura and force Gonzaga to rely on outside shots?
X factor: Tech prides itself on limiting turnovers and committed just eight Thursday against an excellent Michigan defense. Can Gonzaga’s quickness force Tech point guard Davide Moretti into more mistakes?
Coach vs. Coach: Mark Few is an exceptional program coach who has turned Gonzaga into a national power. Chris Beard has taken Tech to the Elite Eight in consecutive seasons. Tech never made it this far before he arrived. As good as Few is, Beard’s genius is obvious. Edge, in one game, goes to Beard, although Few has more talent to work with.
Texas Tech 71, Gonzaga 68. Tech’s defense frustrates Gonzaga into season-ending mistakes, and Tech star Jarrett Culver scores when he needs to. Culver went 0-for-5 from the three-point line vs. Michigan. He will have to do better to beat Gonzaga.