Gonzaga vs. BYU prediction and game preview. The Bulldogs play their first game as the nation’s No. 1 team this season when they visit the Cougars on Thursday night.
Gonzaga vs. BYU Game Preview
When: Thursday, Feb. 2 – 11 p.m. ET
Where: Marriott Center, Provo, Utah.
TV Broadcast: ESPN2
Gonzaga is ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the second time in school history and at 22-0 is the nation’s last remaining unbeaten team. Don’t expect the Bulldogs to be satisfied, though. Coach Mark Few is pursuing his first trip to the Final Four after much regular-season success that often hasn’t carried over into the NCAA Tournament. There is also some debate that even though Gonzaga is ranked No. 1 it’s not the best team in the country.
Players like Nigel Williams-Goss and Przemek Karnowski are helping the Bulldogs make a strong argument against the naysayers, though. Williams-Goss has scored 37 points while hitting 17-of-24 from the field and adding 13 assists over his last two games, playing just 26 minutes in each.
Karnowski (12.5 points per game), Zach Collins (10.8) and Jordan Mathews (10.5) also are averaging in double figures for Gonzaga, which has won 14 straight games by double digits. BYU has played the Bulldogs tough, though.
The Cougars lost two of three matchups last season, but all of those games were decided by a combined eight points. BYU enters this meeting with a 16-7 overall mark and 7-3 in the West Coast Conference after beating Loyola Marymount on Saturday. Eric Mika scored 27 points and is averaging 22 over his last four games.
Gonzaga Wins If …
… nothing changes. Gonzaga’s plus-23.8 point differential per game is the highest in the nation, showing it is scoring plenty and defending just as well. Say what you will about the WCC slate the Bulldogs are facing, but that’s still impressive. They also held Florida to 36.9 percent shooting and Arizona to 38.6 percent. The Zags can defend, and Williams-Goss leads the offense. They’re very well-rounded.
BYU Wins If …
… Mika has the night of his life. The 6-foot-10 sophomore big man has 12 games of at least 20 points and is shooting 54.8 percent from the floor. He’ll get a tough test going up against Karnowski, but if Mika can keep the Cougars close and the home crowd engaged, they might have a chance to pull off the upset. Don’t forget about guards Nick Emery (13.9 points per game) and TJ Haws (13.7) either.
Matchup To Watch
Williams-Goss vs. Haws
The battle between Karnowski and Mika will be important, but the potential back-and-forth between these point guards should be more exciting. Both of them can score and overall are more score-first players, but both can get the ball to teammates in good positions as well.
Spread: Gonzaga -11.5
Over/Under: No line as of post
Gonzaga vs. BYU Prediction
BYU is going to come out fired up against the nation’s No. 1 team. Mika and Emery will get some points early and give the Cougars a lead. But Williams-Goss will settle the Bulldogs down and guide them back, taking over and helping Gonzaga pull out the road victory.
Gonzaga vs. BYU final score prediction: Gonzaga 88, BYU 79