Men's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament South Elite Eight Game Breakdown

South Region Elite Eight Game Breakdown


#1 Duke vs. #2 Gonzaga (Houston, Texas)

After all of the early-round drama, the South Region’s two best teams truly represented their seeds.  No. 1 seed Duke and No. 2 seed Gonzaga will meet on Sunday in Houston to earn a trip to the Final Four.  For Duke, it would be their first Final Four since 2010 and 16th overall.  For Gonzaga it would be their first trip ever.  There will be a lot on the line.

This particular version of Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils is among his most well-balanced ever.  All of the young talent has grown up over the course of the postseason.  He has a stellar guard in Tyus Jones.  Justice Winslow has taken over some games when freshman of the year Jahlil Okafor is double-teamed in the paint.  Winslow was clutch against Utah, posting a double-double and hitting huge shots whenever Utah would go on a mini run.  Mix those freshmen in with steady guard Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson on the block, and Duke has the firepower to wear you out over the course of the game.  As the game wore on, it was clear it would be a defensive contest.  Utah held Duke to 63 points, but Utah did not operate well offensively against Duke’s athletes.  The Utes never really went away despite falling down by double-digits multiple times throughout the game, but they missed too many open shots when they had the opportunity to close in.  The key stretch was when Delon Wright, Utah’s star point guard, was called for his third foul late in the first half and had to sit.  Duke built a lead and - while not insurmountable - really stole the momentum of the game.  In the second half, Utah seemed to turn the ball over more often than hit shots.  Ultimately, that spelled their demise.  They kept it tight with a little run in them at the end, but Duke did not wilt long enough for Utah to pull the upset. 

Gonzaga found themselves in a tough matchup against the size and talent of a surprising UCLA team.  In the second half, the Bulldogs found their groove and pulled away from the Bruins.  Przemek Karnowski, who has averaged 10 points per game in the tournament, finished with 18 points.  UCLA had no answer for him in the low post, where most of their scoring came.  Gonzaga was able to capitalize on UCLA misses. Domantas Sabonis came up big when UCLA doubled Karnowski.  Most impressively, they were able to pull away from the Bruins even though they only hit three shots beyond the arc all game.  The Bulldogs were able to draw fouls and get to the line.  They made 10 more free throws than UCLA did.  For all of the great teams Gonzaga has boasted over the years, this team looks like the best one under Mark Few.  He has reached the Elite Eight for the first time.

This is definitely the matchup the nation wanted to see when the South Region was released.  These are the two most successful and most talented teams in the region.  Only having two days to prepare for one another is a tall order.  Duke will have a bit of an advantage in that regard considering Coach K has been this deep in the tournament so many times.  It is new territory for Few and Gonzaga, and nerves might come into play.  The Bulldogs appear to be the type of team that can keep up with Duke in the full-court and counter them in the half-court.  Utah’s size was an asset for them when defending Okafor.  Gonzaga has the size to be able to do the same.  This game will come down to offensive efficiency.  Neither team can afford to turn it over.  Long-range shooting is going to be important.  Look for the score to be something in the upper-60s to low-70s.  This should be a great game that goes right down to the wire with history on the line.


Tournament Central